The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, in partnership with Tufts University, CIC Health and Project Beacon, has begun processing pooled COVID-19 tests from students and staff at Massachusetts K-12 schools. So far, Broad has processed 15,000 pools from more than 40 schools in 15 districts, representing approximately 84,000 people, and contributing to a statewide plan to launch pooled testing in hundreds more schools in the months ahead.
Pooled testing provides a more cost-effective way of testing large groups of people. Two to ten individual swabs are collected in the same tube and shipped to a testing laboratory. If a pool is found to be positive for the virus, the site re-tests people individually in that pool to identify who has the virus. The Broad’s Clinical Research Sequencing Platform (CRSP) is now processing pooled COVID-19 tests with an average turnaround time of ~24 hours for results. Over the last three months, Broad has processed nearly 260,000 individual swabs from more than 50,600 pools from 582 schools.