Population Genomics Leader Helix Partners with Ginkgo Bioworks

Together, Helix and Ginkgo will make easy, affordable, pooled COVID-19 testing accessible to teachers, staff, and students in these communities

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.

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