Gakii Masunga, HMS '21.

Graduate student Gakii Masunga was among the first to use the COVID-19 self-administered test.

Photos by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

Sampling the COVID-19 test

2 min read

Pilot effort provides self-administered kits to grad students, undergrads, staff

Gakii Masunga, who is studying for her master’s in bioethics at Harvard Medical School, was among the first students to take the University’s new COVID-19 test. She picked up the self-administered kit last Thursday at a pilot site outside Quincy House. There, she activated the test tube’s barcode on the web-based platform called Color and answered a couple of health questions.

After swabbing each nostril — 1 inch in, three rotations around — she scanned the barcode onto the platform’s app, and then walked to Lowell House to drop the specimen into a bin at the designated test collection point.

“I wasn’t sure what it would be like, but it takes a few minutes at best,” said Masunga, who will serve as community health lead in Lowell. “I thought it might be overwhelming and time-consuming, but the test is actually very smooth.”

COVID test
Taking the COVID-19 test

Gakii Masunga used the app to activate the test tube’s barcode. Harvard University Health Services’ Maria Francesconi (left) and Abhishek Raman, specialty proctor for public service, participated in the pilot testing at Quincy House.

Eventually, students will receive test kits in their mailboxes. At the pilot site set up outside Quincy by Harvard University Health Services (HUHS), 65 people — including proctors, House tutors and staff, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences students, and some Business School staff — tested the protocol that will soon occur regularly around campus. HUHS Executive Director Giang T. Nguyen was on hand to observe the pilot and also tested the kit.

Raphaëlle Soffe ’21, who is from Wales and remained on campus after it shut down in March, said the testing took under five minutes, and thought undergrads will find the process easy.

“The instructions are very detailed. The big questions I had was how time-consuming is it and what methods will be used to help establish it as a daily routine,” said the social studies concentrator, who lives in Adams House and sits on its COVID-19 subcommittee.

— Jill Radsken, Harvard Staff Writer