ASU researchers have created the Evidence Commons, a website of more than 3,000 published papers released in September on COVID-19 testing to enable researchers to easily access the data and science behind coronavirus testing.
Evidence Commons is the first and only website that has a comprehensive repository of published research on COVID-19 focused on diagnostic tests and testing practices, according to the website.
“Evidence Commons enables the scientific community to share their findings on disease testing research,” said Mara Aspinall, professor of practice at the College of Health Solutions and principal investigator for the Evidence Commons grant in an email.
“Evidence Commons provides unique, one-of-a-kind access to diagnostic-related research that is critical to enhancing scientific collaboration and pandemic prevention and mitigation,” Aspinall said.
Aspinall said the tests are useful as they are, but research and efficiency data from the tests are more difficult for medical professionals to locate.
On the Evidence Commons website, there are charts that list different categories related to diagnostic tests. One of them is the place of sample collection, which shows that the tests were predominantly collected in medical facilities.
Vel Murugan, associate director for research and research associate professor at the Biodesign Institute, and Neal Woodbury, vice president and chief science and technology officer for ASU Knowledge Enterprise, worked together on diagnostic tests for ASU students.
They said diagnostic tests at ASU it is a huge process that is always changing due to the state of the pandemic.
“The state was supporting us to do a lot of work across the state,” Woodbury said.
At the height of the pandemic, ASU had 20 different testing sites across Arizona giving anyone who wanted a test a chance to take one. With the coronavirus slowing down, the government stopped funding the sites, so now ASU is focused on delivering Devils, a coronavirus spittle, on campus. tests option open to all students, faculty and staff.
Murugan said that when the coronavirus started, the University decided to use the nasal swab test, but quickly moved to the saliva-based test because it was easier for everyone.
When Murugan and his team take a saliva test, they put them at 65 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes to reduce the risk of handling live samples to maintain the clinical testing laboratory protected.
The lab tests the sample in three different ways as a good assurance policy to prevent the lab from sending false positives to examinees.
Woodbury said the lab also wants to make sure there’s a turnaround time for these tests so people can get their results as soon as possible, at most two days.
“The reason timing and sensitivity are important, and in particular they were early in the pandemic, was because we were trying to help people stop transmission of the virus,” Woodbury said.
Aspinall said that for future pandemics, Evidence Commons can better help researchers by providing them with essential data.
“Evidence Commons puts critical information about diagnostic technology in one place,” Aspinall said. “There has been a lot of debate in the last two years about diagnostic technology: Which testing technologies work best? When is the best time to use each technology?”
Edited by Kaden Ryback, David Rodish, and Luke Chatham.
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