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COVID-19: Study Reveals A More Accurate Test

COVID-19: Study Reveals A More Accurate Test post image

A better method for COVID-19 testing than nasal swabs.

Saliva samples are more accurate in detecting SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19 patients compared to a nasal swab, a new study reveals.

Researchers from the Yale School of Public Health suggest that taking a saliva test is a preferable approach than popular the nasopharyngeal (NP) swab.

The test is simple but saliva samples have to be taken from inside the mouth.

It is more sensitive and consistent in detecting the infection than the other tests.

Collecting the sample at home is a practical and fast way to identify the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Dr Anne Louise Wyllie, the study’s first author, said:

“Taken together, our findings demonstrate that saliva is a viable and more sensitive alternative to nasopharyngeal swabs and could enable at-home self-administered sample collection for accurate large-scale SARS-CoV-2 testing.”

With the saliva test, the chance of missing those who show no symptoms is much lower than the nasal swab test.

Apparently, the saliva test, due to its precision, can also identify mild SARS-CoV-2 infections where other methods have failed.

NP swab is the accepted for determining many pathogens causing upper respiratory tract infections.

However, the study suggests that saliva testing is a better alternative.

The research team highlighted that collecting saliva samples doesn’t need trained medical staff and is reliable when self-administered.

In addition, saliva has similar sensitivity to NP swabs in spotting a variety of pathogens responsible for respiratory infections.

The NP test requires swabbing deep into the area of the throat behind the nasal cavity and mouth called the pharynx.

It is rotated for a specific time and removed after collecting secretions, then the sample is sent for analysis to a certified Laboratory.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) On April 13 authorized a saliva test for COVID-19 developed at RUCDR Infinite Biologics.

However, this approved test must be performed by a qualified person in a medical centre. 

The research team noted that a saliva test doesn’t need as many resources as is required for NP sampling like health care professionals and personal protective equipment.

Dr Wyllie said:

“With further validation, widespread use of saliva sampling could be transformative for public health efforts.”

Due to its consistency, the saliva test could be helpful to evaluate people’s health and safety so they would be able to go back to work.

Dr Nathan Grubaugh, study co-author, said:

“Once tests and laboratories are validated for using saliva, this could be rapidly implemented and immediately resolve many of the resource and safety issues with SARS-CoV-2 testing.”

About the author

Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.


The study was published in medRxiv (Wyllie et al., 2020).