The first saliva test approved to test COVID-19 received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday. Developed by Rutgers University’s (RU) RUCDR Infinite Biologics, the test will provide more options to patients and healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as an additional level of safety.
One of the obstacles the US has encountered in its fight against COVID-19 is two-fold in regards to tests: a lack of available tests and turnaround time for receiving results. Such testing is key for tracking coronavirus.
The saliva tests will limit contact between those being tested and healthcare workers. Current testing involves medical professionals taking a swab from the nose or throat or a patient. With the saliva test, close proximity won’t be required for collection.
“Saliva testing will help with the global shortage of swabs for sampling and increase testing of patients, and it will not require health care professionals to be put at risk to collect samples,” Andrew Brooks, chief operating officer and director of technology development at RUCDR said in a statement on Rutgers Today. (Pictured above.)
Per AP News, the RU saliva tests were compared to swab tests, pairing 60 samples from the same test takers. Saliva samples had a 100% match with results from those taken by swab. Still, it is advised that a secondary form of testing be completed for those going the saliva test route.
Initially, the saliva test will be used at hospitals and clinics connected to RU, where it’s estimated 10,000 tests can be processed per day. “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,” Brooks said.
Another benefit – preserving personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in patient care instead of testing.
Brooks pointed out another convenience. “Saliva testing will also be important for people who are in quarantine because they don’t know how long it will be until they are no longer infectious. This will allow health care workers to release themselves from quarantine and safely come back to work.”