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Utah company first to receive FDA approval for COVID-19 saliva test kits

Posted at 6:26 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 20:26:06-05

DRAPER, Utah — For the first time, we’re getting a look inside the company that created the saliva test kits used every single day across the State of Utah and the world.

Bill Phillips, Chief Operating Officer for Spectrum Solutions, said the company originally started out providing product development to improve customer experiences.

About seven years later, the Utah native said a company called Ancestry reached out for assistance with their consumer experience.

In addition, Phillips asked if they could help improve Ancestry's saliva collection device.

When the pandemic hit, Phillips said they realized they could use that same saliva collection test for COVID-19.

"While inactivating the virus it preserves the viral RNA," said Phillips. "So, you get a really pure, clean sample."

Their test became the first saliva test approved by the FDA for use and with it, the success of the company boomed.

"We went from 90 employees to 700 in a hundred days," said Phillips.

With their saliva test, Phillips said no PPE is required to hold the vial and the samples can be shelved for at least a month without going bad.

For the PCR nasal swab, the sample size is very small and requires the assistance of someone else to either administer the test or monitor the administration.

The success in assisting with COVID-19 testing is just beginning for Phillips and his company.

Currently, Phillips said they are working with the United Kingdom to use a saliva test for COVID-19 antibodies.

"It will tell you what your antibody levels are, what your first vaccination shot levels are, what your booster levels are and then how long that antibody lasts in your body," said Phillips.

In the Philippines, only the saliva test will be provided for their citizens and Phillips said their company will be the one providing it--just as they are doing in Nigeria.

Yet, Phillips and his team are hardly stopping at using their research for COVID-19 tests.

On Wednesday, Spectrum Solutions announced they are partnering with a doctor at the UCLA School of Dentistry to see if they can detect lung cancer through saliva collections.

"We believe that will be world changing," said Phillips.

Science pieced together beginning here, along the Wasatch Front.

"To get a call from the White House, from Major League Baseball, asking us to help is just something to be proud of," said Phillips.