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WorkinCT: Wren Laboratories in Branford creates COVID test for children

The saliva mouthpiece is ergonomically designed to collect saliva. The sample is collected and then sent back to the lab to be analyzed with a result in 24 hours.

BRANFORD, Conn. — Inside Wren Laboratories in Branford, COVID-19 tests are being analyzed.  Those tests are the first saliva PCR COVID-19 tests in the nation to get emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration for those ages five and over.

“The tests are from 99.9 to 99.999% accurate.  In some of the variants, we’re 100% accurate,” said Dr. Mark Kidd, Wren Laboratories’ Laboratory and Scientific Director.

Wren Laboratories started in 2010 as a cancer diagnostics business.  It focuses on blood-based diagnostics to detect and monitor certain cancers.  In 2020, it was approached by the State of Connecticut to use those methods to develop a COVID test.

“It’s not a traditional rapid test.  Our cancer-based approach has allowed us to develop a highly sensitive, very, very specific test,” said Dr. Kidd.

It was designed to be easy to use.  The saliva mouthpiece is ergonomically designed to collect saliva.  The sample is collected and then sent back to Wren Laboratories to be analyzed with a result in 24 hours. 

“What it means really is that children can be tested now.  As we all know, children under the age of 12 can’t be vaccinated, so they are the highest risk of contracting and spreading the virus,” said Dr. Kidd.

With children getting ready to head back to class this fall, Wren Laboratories knows it’s important that schools have access to accurate, efficient COVID testing.

“Last year was a year lost.  We lost a year of school.  So we cannot have that.  And we cannot depend on testing that is inaccurate, so we need accurate testing which is PCR testing that can pick up all of the variants so that kids can go back to school and they can catch up on the education that they lost,” said Dr. Kidd.

While the tests can be ordered in bulk by schools or businesses, they are also available to anyone who wants to buy one, without a physician’s prescription.  You can order test kits online for $100 directly through Wren Laboratories at its website

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