• Press Release

Mount Sinai Health System and Pershing Square Foundation Announce Expansion of New Saliva-Based COVID-19 Testing Program

Expanded program will be available to NYC schools and other organizations. Expansion follows a successful pilot with KIPP NYC Public Schools, in which more than 13,000 tests have been performed on students and staff across nine KIPP NYC schools. By reporting 99.4% of May results within 24-hours of testing, this innovative pilot program proved to be among the most efficient and accurate means of detecting COVID-19 outbreaks.

  • New York, NY
  • (May 25, 2021)

Today, Mount Sinai Health System and the Pershing Square Foundation announced the expansion of a saliva-based COVID-19 testing program following the successful completion of a pilot study with KIPP NYC Public Schools.

The test and testing program, which uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology, the most accurate form of COVID-19 testing, were developed by a team of internationally renowned researchers and clinicians from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. It is a highly sensitive test and a child-friendly and comfortable testing option for students and staff. The program, called Mount Sinai COVID Lab, will expand to process 25,000 tests per day by mid-June and will scale to 100,000 tests per day in the months after that. Results were returned within 24 hours for 99.4 percent of tests administered in recent weeks.

Mount Sinai COVID Lab was created in an academic laboratory to provide a highly accurate, easy-to-use test at a fraction of the cost of other tests. The program enables students and staff members at New York City schools to get tested regularly, helping to protect the school community and provide greater confidence to parents, students, educators, and staff members as New York City transitions back to in-person learning.

The pilot program was offered at no cost to participating KIPP NYC Public Schools and was conducted at KIPP NYC’s 133rd Street campus (which includes KIPP STAR Harlem Elementary, KIPP Infinity Elementary, and KIPP Infinity Middle School), as well as KIPP Washington Heights Middle School and KIPP NYC College Prep School.

Between the pilot’s launch on Wednesday, March 10, and Friday, May 21, 12,789 saliva samples were processed at the Mount Sinai COVID Lab with an 0.4 percent positivity rate, aiding in testing and tracing efforts in the community. A scientific study validating Mount Sinai’s saliva test was published in the Journal of Medical Virology demonstrating the high diagnostic sensitivity, specificity, and reliability of the technology for detection of new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Enabling children to safely return to in-person learning is the goal of our testing program,” said Bill Ackman, co-trustee of the Pershing Square Foundation. “We are fortunate that the vaccine has enabled many people to return to a more normal life, but testing will remain critically important to limiting the spread, particularly among vulnerable populations. We are delighted to partner with Mount Sinai on this important initiative.”

“Testing is a critical and strategic tool in stopping this pandemic and getting our kids back in school and our city and country back to normal,” said David L. Reich, MD, President and Chief Operating Officer, The Mount Sinai Hospital. “Mount Sinai has shown extraordinary commitment and leadership in this pandemic fight, from developing one of the first highly sensitive antibody tests and innovative therapies to treat COVID-19 to treating and studying the lingering effects suffered by ‘long-haulers’ with post-COVID-19 syndromes. This testing program in close collaboration with our partners at the Pershing Square Foundation and KIPP could serve as a national model and be a game-changer for schools and families.”

“We are so grateful to Mount Sinai and the Pershing Square Foundation for the opportunity to participate in this pilot program,” said Jane Martinez Dowling, Chief External Affairs Officer, KIPP NYC. “Throughout the pandemic, we have taken great precaution and the utmost care to ensure that our educators and students return to joyful learning in person every day. The partnership with Mount Sinai has made our educators and families confident that our students can attend school safely.”

In addition to in-school testing, the Mount Sinai COVID Lab initiative is available for commercial use in New York City at competitive pricing to organizations and businesses. We intend to publicly recognize those companies that use our testing program for enabling the program to provide testing at New York City schools at low or zero cost. Commercial organizations and New York City schools interested in learning more about the Mount Sinai COVID Lab should contact covidlab@mountsinai.org.

To download photos and video of testing at KIPP NYC Public Schools, click here.


About Pershing Square Foundation
The Pershing Square Foundation (PSF) was established in 2006 to support exceptional leaders and innovative organizations that tackle important social issues and deliver scalable and sustainable impact across the globe. PSF has committed $500+ million in grants and social investments across a number of fields, including health and medicine, education, economic development and social justice. Bill Ackman and Neri Oxman are the co-trustees of the Foundation.

About KIPP NYC Public Schools
KIPP NYC is a network of 15 public charter schools educating children in grades K-12 (seven elementary and seven middle schools, and a college preparatory high school). Together with KIPP Through College and Career, the alumni support program, KIPP NYC is educating and serving 8,561 students and alumni. KIPP NYC is part of KIPP, the largest charter network in the country. Today, there are 255 KIPP public charter schools in 28 states and the District of Columbia educating over 100,000 children. 

About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties.

For more information, visit https://www.mountsinai.org or find Mount Sinai on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.