Purdue’s first COVID tests reveal infection rate below 1%

Summer efforts will guide the university in designing large-scale student testing program for the fall
By: | July 17, 2020
Purdue University conducted the it first student COVID tests last week with the first FDA-authorized, saliva-based COVID test, which is made by Vault Health. (Photo provided by Vault Health)Purdue University conducted the it first student COVID tests last week with the first FDA-authorized, saliva-based COVID test, which is made by Vault Health. (Photo provided by Vault Health)

Only three of the 504 students tested positive for COVID-19 when they arrived on campus last week for Purdue University’s Summer Start and Early Start programs, school officials announced Friday.

Those three students, all of whom were asymptomatic, are living in a campus isolation area under the supervision of the Protect Purdue Health Center.

“We believed it was important to communicate these early results as more colleges and universities have announced testing plans for students this fall,” said Dr. Eric Barker, dean of pharmacy at Purdue University. “What we learn now through this early testing will help as we administer the much larger program moving into the fall semester.”

These summer efforts will guide the university in designing its large-scale student testing program for the fall, officials said.


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Purdue conducted the tests with the first FDA-authorized, saliva-based COVID test, which is made by Vault Health and allows students to test themselves at home.

The tests are used by the National Hockey League, the PGA Tour, Major League Soccer and several companies, Purdue said in a press release.

In the fall, students preparing to travel to campus will conduct the tests during a telehealth visit with a Vault clinician and ship the kit overnight to a lab for processing. Students should receive the results with 48 to 72 hours.

A copy of the test result will also be sent to the Protect Purdue Health Center.

Students who test positive will be told not to travel to campus until they are clear of infection.

“Our very first goal is to reduce to as close to zero as possible the number of people who come to our community with the virus,” said Dr. Esteban Ramirez, chief medical officer at the Protect Purdue Health Center. “Even at a very low percentage of positive cases, this will enable us to intercept a substantial number of people who have the virus before they ever arrive in West Lafayette.”


UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.