Centogene, a diagnostics and genetic research firm, has partnered with the OESIS Network, a network of more than 600 schools across the US, to provide Covid-19 screening in schools.

The partnership is aimed at providing RT-PCR testing at schools to help them return to campus this fall.

In addition, it will enable continued screening to prevent the spread of Covid-19 over the course of the academic year.

Under the partnership, the companies intend to offer the diagnostic test at an affordable price, which will be less than the Covid-19 clinical diagnostic reimbursement price announced in April for Medicare Part B for high throughput, technician intensive, and time intensive tests.

The partnership is also evaluating the possibility of providing pooled pricing, where test samples are batched to reduce analytical costs, for schools that perform regular testing, following the establishment of initial baseline.

All logistics for sample collection will be handled by CENTOGENE

The samples will be collected using CentoSwab, CENTOGENE’s validated and CE-labelled, ethylene oxide-treated oropharyngeal swabs and collection tubes, which do not require a medical expert, stabilisation buffer, or specialised kits, and  can be shipped directly to school sampling locations.

In addition, the company, along with its logistics partners, will handle all logistics for sample collection to ensure sample collection, delivery, and analysis on track with the schedule.

The testing will use RT-PCR for accuracy, and is planned to be conducted at CENTOGENE lab, a CLIA lab certified by the college of American Pathologists to conduct moderate to complex diagnostics required for PCR testing.

OESIS Network president Sanje Ratnavale said: “CENTOGENE has all the operational attributes we were looking for including reputation, quality, capacity, logistics and price. We were drawn to its experience and credentials testing high school students and teachers already for Covid-19, who provided us with the necessary references.

“Although many of the schools in our network are independent, this program will be equally available to public and Title 1 schools, particularly if they are able to access Cares Act funding potentially for such uses.”