SAN MATEO, Ca. April 8, 2021 – Helix, the leading population genomics and COVID-19 testing company, announced a partnership with Ginkgo Bioworks ("Ginkgo"), the organism company, to provide a scalable, simple and affordable testing modality – pooled COVID-19 testing – to K-12 schools across the western U.S. Concentric by Ginkgo works with hundreds of schools across the country to provide pooled testing, including several school systems in California. Enabling schools to reopen for in-person learning is a critical component of the Biden-Harris administration's National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.
Helix, with support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program, has scaled to become one of the country's largest COVID-19 testing labs and is able to process up to 150,000 tests per day if needed. Helix's COVID-19 testing platform is currently used by schools, health systems, employers, governments, retail pharmacies, and other organizations across the U.S. with a median lab turnaround time of under ten hours.
"Enabling students and faculty to return to in-person learning is an important part of this nation's COVID-19 recovery efforts," said Marc Stapley, CEO of Helix. "Through our partnership with Ginkgo, we'll be able to make our accurate, rapid, and affordable molecular testing accessible to schools, starting in the Western U.S."
Concentric by Ginkgo's goal is to provide easy, affordable pooled testing to every school in America. Pooled classroom testing, which combines swabs from all consenting individuals in a classroom and runs them as a single test, is an effective way to significantly increase testing capacity and lower the cost of testing programs in low prevalence situations.
"COVID-19 testing remains critical to the nation's efforts to reopen," said Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder of Ginkgo. "Through this partnership with Helix, we can supply the entire western U.S. with the testing capacity and logistics support to help schools resume in-person learning in the spring by testing every student, every week."
To date, Helix has delivered over four million COVID-19 tests in its CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited laboratory based in San Diego, California. Helix and Ginkgo expect to make this offering available to the approximately 2,000 school districts across the western U.S. as needed.
More information on Helix's COVID-19 testing platform and research efforts can be found at helix.com/covid. To learn more about Concentric by Ginkgo or to get your school district involved, head over to concentricbyginkgo.com.
The study team also encourages informing health care providers of the importance of incorporating genetic diagnoses into the pharmaceutical (for example, for Familial Hypercholesterolemia) and treatment advice given to patients.
Helix is the leading population genomics company operating at the intersection of clinical care, research, and genomics. Its end-to-end platform enables health systems, life sciences companies, and payers to advance genomic research and accelerate the integration of genomic data into clinical care. Powered by one of the world's largest CLIA / CAP next-generation sequencing labs and the first and only FDA authorized whole exome sequencing platform, Helix supports all aspects of population genomics including recruitment and engagement, clinically actionable disease screening, return of results, and basic and translational research. In response to the COVID-19 public health crisis, Helix has launched a sensitive and scalable end-to-end COVID-19 test system to meet the needs of health systems, employers, governments, and other organizations across the country. Learn more at www.helix.com.
About Ginkgo Bioworks
Headquartered in Boston, Ginkgo uses the most advanced technology on the planet—biology—to grow better products. The company's cell programming platform is enabling the growth of biotechnology across diverse markets, from food to fragrance to pharmaceuticals. Ginkgo is also actively supporting a number of COVID-19 response efforts, including community testing, epidemiological tracing, vaccine development and therapeutics discovery. For more information, visit https://concentricbyginkgo.com.