Andrew Brooks, a research professor who developed the first COVID-19 saliva test, died of a heart attack recently at age 51, The New York Times reported Sunday.
Brooks, who was a professor at Rutgers University, made the first breakthrough in COVID-19 testing by developing the spit test, which received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration last April.
He then received a multimillion-dollar loan that helped his company, Infinity Biologix, nearly double its staff and add more equipment in order to conduct more tests and determine the results.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called Brooks "one of the state's unsung heroes" who "undoubtedly saved lives," The Hill reported, adding "We cannot thank Andy enough for all he did across his career."
Last year, Brooks desribed the impact his test had for healthcare workers, according to CNN.
"It means we no longer have to put healthcare professionals at risk for infection by performing nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal collections," he said in a statement. "We can preserve precious personal protective equipment for use in patient care instead of testing. We can significantly increase the number of people tested each and every day as self-collection of saliva is more quick and scalable than swab collections."