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SLATE: New COVID test brings hope to sports — and you

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Yale and the NBA ride to the rescue.

These puppies might be getting processed a lot quicker real soon.
These puppies might be getting processed a lot quicker real soon.
Photo by Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The biggest news of the weekend was the Saturday revelation that the work Yale University has been doing to test saliva-based tests for COVID-19 has borne fruit. The testing, funded by the NBA and NBPA and tested by the league and most teams in the Orlando bubble, is able to generate the same results as the nasal swab test so effectively that the failure rate is statistically insignificant.

This has not yet been peer-reviewed, which could be an issue, but the success rate was enough for the FDA to lend its emergency approval to the test. Its advantages over the nasal swab are obvious, but it’s the financial story that is the big news for Americans. Even taking into account consumer markup, the cost of the test should be no more than $15-20, compared with the absurd figures we’ve seen for the nasal swab testing and the $150 cost of the Rutgers saliva test.

Why is the Rutgers test so much more expensive? It still requires the extraction of RNA from the saliva sample, which results in slowdowns in the process and increased expense. The Yale test does not, and can be turned around in under 24 hours.

This, of course, is huge news for sports fans of all stripes. One of the most serious criticisms of continuing to attempt to play sports during the pandemic has been the availability of testing agents when it’s so hard for Joe Average to get a test himself. This should not only erase those concerns, but help all the Joe Averages out there who need to be tested as well.

But as good as this news is, it’s come with a backlash. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are now under fire for cancelling their seasons so early when they still had several weeks to wait for precisely this breakthrough. Fans, parents, and even players are now hammering the two conferences in an attempt to get them to reverse course and reinstate the season.

More as this develops, but for now ESPN’s Zach Lowe (with a hand from Adrian Wojnarowski) has all the details of what the test is and how it came about. It’s a good read.

As for your Kansas State news:

At the Eagle, Kellis Robinett reports on the Wildcats finally having something concrete to practice for.

Today’s Sports Extra is about the K-State volleyball team’s annual Purple vs White Scrimmage, which went off without a hitch — albeit without fans — on Friday night.