On the day the Big Ten began requiring teams to administer daily rapid COVID-19 testing, it announced partnerships to make its plan a reality.
The 14-team conference enlisted Quidel Corporation to supply coronavirus antigen tests – which will be administered daily to all athletes, coaches and other staffers working in the facilities – and Biodesix to run the testing operations on all campuses where it'll “distribute and manage” each of the tests.
Earlier in September, the Pac-12 also partnered with Quidel.
Daily COVID-19 testing began across the Big Ten on Wednesday. Previously, the testing supplier and manager were not publicly known.
“The partnership with Biodesix and Quidel is an important step toward achieving our mission of keeping our student-athletes, and the communities that support them, healthy and safe,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “The data we are scheduled to collect, and the research component of this partnership, will provide major contributions to all 14 Big Ten institutions as they study COVID-19 and attempt to mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) among wider communities.”
The Big Ten Conference has entered into strategic partnerships with Biodesix, Inc. and Quidel Corporation to provide comprehensive surveillance testing for SARS-CoV-2 for all student-athletes and staff personnel involved in close contact sport competition: https://t.co/giNV9IN15B— Big Ten Conference (@bigten) September 30, 2020
Biodesix employees are expected at each of the conference's schools this week to begin distributing the first shipment of tests from Quidel, per Big Ten. Biodesix, along with Maxim Healthcare Staffing Services – which is referred to as the company's “designated contractor” – will be in charge of collecting all the test results. Maxim Healthcare Staffing Services workers will administer the tests.
Biodesix also plans to validate the daily tests with PCR testing – from which it which takes at least 24 hours to see a result – on a “percentage of anonymous samples” to show the subcommittee whether the daily tests are proving to be accurate.
Each of the Big Ten's athletes, coaches and staffers “involved in close contact sports competition” will get tested for coronavirus before every game and practice. If somebody tests positive, the conference explained earlier this month, they will get pulled away from the rest of the team in order to undergo a polymerase chain reaction test to confirm the result.
A confirmed positive test would result in a player being ineligible to participate in games for at least 21 days. In the case of a team's players reaching a positivity rate of 5% and the total population of a team – which includes players, coaches and staffers – reaching a 7.5% positivity rate, a program would have to stop practicing and playing in games for at least seven days.
By testing daily with the aid of Quidel and Biodesix, the conference hopes to minimize issues of games getting canceled or postponed that have been seen across college football.
“Along with its medical and scientific capabilities as a certified laboratory, Biodesix is committed to helping the Big Ten meet the testing requirements and reporting protocols established by the medical subcommittee and adopted by the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C),” said Jim Borchers, Ohio State's head team physician and the co-chair of the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee. “Quidel’s rapid antigen testing technology represents the ability to perform COVID-19 surveillance testing on a large scale with prompt results.”