MDI Biological Laboratory
Press Release

Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory unveils new tracing app as Covid-19 cases rise in Maine and across New England

The MDI Biological Laboratory (MDIBL) is launching a citizen science program aimed at understanding the effectiveness of COVID-19 home test kits in detecting the SARS CoV-2 virus. Using MDIBL’s citizen science data platform,, participants over the age of 18 will be asked to fill out a brief anonymous survey, providing information on symptoms, masking, which kind of test kit was used, and the test result.

Jane Disney, Ph.D., who leads the project said, “It will provide very practical information that will inform our understanding of community spread as SARS CoV-2 and its subvariants continue to infect people worldwide. This survey tool will help us address critical questions about the relationship between timing of exposure, whether a mask was worn, what type of mask was worn, symptoms, and results of different Covid-19 home test kits. The anonymous results are publicly available for download so that people can see what is happening in their communities.”

The US government recently provided guidance that requires private insurance companies to cover the costs of up to eight FDA approved over the counter COVID-19 diagnostic tests per household. Therefore, administration of these tests is happening privately, and test results are largely unreported.  Disney added, “This leaves a great gap in knowledge about the transmission of the virus. MDIBL is pleased to assist in tracing infections in this way and working on behalf of the public good.”


Editorial Note: If you are interested in taking part of this Citizen Science project that will provide valuable data to researchers, you can learn more about and participate in the project, here.