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CDC, Concentric by Ginkgo and XpresCheck® Publish Results of CDC COVID-19 Air Travel Biosecurity Program at International Airports

March 23, 2022

The joint, voluntary COVID-19 testing program successfully identified Omicron sublineages BA.2 and BA.3 weeks before the next reported U.S. detections

BOSTON, March 23, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Concentric by Ginkgo, the public health and biosecurity initiative of Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE: DNA), today released new findings from its joint SARS-CoV-2 monitoring program with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and XpresCheck®, a subsidiary of XpresSpa Group, Inc (Nasdaq: XSPA). The findings, published in a preprint yesterday on medRxiv, outline how this voluntary Traveler-Based SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Surveillance program operates as an early warning system and closes a gap in national public health security. The program was the first in the nation to identify Omicron sublineages BA.2 and BA.3, weeks before they were reported elsewhere in the United States.

In partnership with CDC's Travelers' Health Branch and XpresCheck, Concentric enrolls international travelers arriving at select U.S. airports from multiple countries on a voluntary basis, and samples them using nasal swabs. Samples that test positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, undergo viral genomic sequencing to detect and monitor SARS-CoV-2 variants. The paper's authors conclude that the initial results of the program's operations demonstrate that the program is an effective model for a traveler-based pathogen genomic surveillance system. The authors suggest that expansion of the program can be used as an early warning system to detect new or emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants and facilitate response to future travel-associated outbreaks and pandemics.

Despite layered mitigation measures, international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic continues to facilitate global spread of SARS-CoV-2, including novel variants of concern (VOCs). Travelers represent a key population for monitoring new and emerging infectious diseases, due to their mobility, their potential for exposure to diseases during travel, and the possibility that they can spread diseases from one place to another in a short amount of time. Conducting traveler-based surveillance enabled this program to detect two Omicron sublineages, BA.2 and BA.3, seven and forty-three days, respectively, before they were reported elsewhere in the United States and North America.

"This SARS-CoV-2 traveler-based genomic surveillance program helps fill a critical gap in achieving public health priorities. Early detection and sequencing of new variants entering the United States can provide vital information about transmissibility and virulence of the virus as well as the effectiveness of existing vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, which can guide our public health response," said Dr. Cindy Friedman, Chief of CDC's Travelers' Health Branch.

Ezra Ernst, the Chief Executive Officer of XpresCheck, stated, "We are gratified that XpresCheck's joint epidemiologic surveillance program with the CDC and Ginkgo Bioworks has been shown to be such an effective model for detecting new variants entering our borders. This program was able to provide a sample of BA.2 to CDC for early viral characterization. As we know, speed is essential in our fight against COVID-19 and having this program in place saves time and acts as an early warning system for the country. These promising results further underscore the importance of monitoring for COVID-19 across our nation's airports, and we are thankful to all the travelers who have participated in our program as well as our dedicated staff and partners at Ginkgo, CDC, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Port Authority."

"Returning to pre-pandemic movement of people, goods, and services requires a comprehensive, large-scale, and interconnected approach to pathogen monitoring, including viral genomic sequencing and characterization," said Matt McKnight, General Manager, Biosecurity at Ginkgo. "Concentric strives to use proactive pathogen monitoring to build a weather map of how pathogens are evolving and spreading—a powerful tool to help us all prepare for future outbreaks and pandemics. This program has demonstrated the value of public-private partnership in building an effective and scalable model for the biosecurity infrastructure we need."

Currently, the program is operating at four of the busiest international airports in the country: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), San Francisco International Airport (SFO), and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). The results published today represent aggregate data from thousands of travelers who voluntarily participated in the program by giving a sample at the airport between September 2021 and January 2022.

Concentric by Ginkgo is building a next-generation biosecurity and public health platform with the aim of providing pathogen biomonitoring capabilities at scale to help identify and mitigate the next new variant or novel pathogen. Its lab network currently has enough contracted and validated labs to serve millions of individuals with test results every week. Concentric is continuing to scale its viral sequencing capabilities to contribute to the nation's capacity for genomic epidemiology and empower communities with timely and predictive data. 

About Ginkgo Bioworks

Ginkgo is building a platform to enable customers to program cells as easily as we can program computers. The company's platform is enabling biotechnology applications across diverse markets, from food and agriculture to industrial chemicals to pharmaceuticals. Ginkgo has also actively supported a number of COVID-19 response efforts, including K-12 pooled testing, vaccine manufacturing optimization and therapeutics discovery. For more information, visit

About XpresSpa Group, Inc.

XpresSpa Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: XSPA) is a leading global health and wellness holding company operating three distinct brands: XpresCheck®, XpresSpa®, Treat™. XpresCheck is a leading on-site airport provider of Covid-19 screening and testing with 15 locations in 12 domestic airports. XpresSpa is a leading airport retailer of spa services and related health and wellness products, with 45 locations in 21 airports globally. Treat is a travel health and wellness brand that is providing on-demand access to healthcare through technology and personalized services. The Company also recently acquired HyperPointe, a leading digital healthcare and data analytics relationship marketing agency servicing the global healthcare and pharmaceutical industry.

To learn more about XpresSpa Group, visit:
To learn more about XpresCheck, visit:
To learn more about XpresSpa, visit
To learn more about Treat, visit:
To learn more about HyperPointe, visit: 
Twitter: @xprescheck and Instagram: @realxprescheck
Twitter: @XpresSpa and Instagram: @XpresSpa
Twitter: @Treat_Care and Instagram: @treat_care

Ginkgo Bioworks Contacts:


Investor Relations: 

XpresSpa Group Contacts:

Julie Ferguson 
(312) 385-0098

Investor Relations:
Raphael Gross 
(203) 682-8253

Ginkgo Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws, including statements regarding the potential of Ginkgo's biosecurity capabilities and partnership with XpresSpa Group, Inc. These forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words "believe," "project," "potential," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "intend," "strategy," "future," "opportunity," "plan," "may," "should," "will," "would," "will be," "will continue," "will likely result," and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this document, including but not limited to: (i) the effect of the business combination with Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp. ("Soaring Eagle") on Ginkgo's business relationships, performance, and business generally, (ii) risks that the business combination disrupts current plans of Ginkgo and potential difficulties in Ginkgo's employee retention, (iii) the outcome of any legal proceedings that may be instituted against Ginkgo related to its business combination with Soaring Eagle, (iv) volatility in the price of Ginkgo's securities now that it is a public company due to a variety of factors, including changes in the competitive and highly regulated industries in which Ginkgo plans to operate, variations in performance across competitors, changes in laws and regulations affecting Ginkgo's business and changes in the combined capital structure, (v) the ability to implement business plans, forecasts, and other expectations after the completion of the business combination, and identify and realize additional opportunities, and (vi) the risk of downturns in demand for products using synthetic biology. The foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. You should carefully consider the foregoing factors and the other risks and uncertainties described in the "Risk Factors" section of Ginkgo's quarterly report on Form 10-Q filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") on November 15, 2021 and other documents filed by Ginkgo from time to time with the SEC. These filings identify and address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events and results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and Ginkgo assumes no obligation and does not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Ginkgo does not give any assurance that it will achieve its expectations.

Forward-Looking Statements of XpresSpa Group, Inc.

This press release may contain "forward-looking" statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These include statements preceded by, followed by or that otherwise include the words "believes," "expects," "anticipates," "estimates," "projects," "intends," "should," "seeks," "future," "continue," or the negative of such terms, or other comparable terminology. Forward-looking statements relating to expectations about future results or events are based upon information available to XpresSpa Group as of today's date and are not guarantees of the future performance of the Company, and actual results may vary materially from the results and expectations discussed. Additional information concerning these and other risks is contained in XpresSpa Group's most recently filed Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K, and other Securities and Exchange Commission filings. All subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements concerning XpresSpa Group, or other matters attributable to XpresSpa Group or any person acting on its behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements above. XpresSpa Group does not undertake any obligation to publicly update any of these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that may arise after the date hereof.


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