There’s a New Saliva-Based Test for Covid-19
It could be an easier way to test than the nose or throat swab
A new coronavirus test that uses a saliva sample instead of a nose swab could soon provide another option for diagnosing people with Covid-19.
According to an announcement on Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over the weekend granted emergency use authorization for the test, which was developed by scientists at Rutgers University.
Currently, diagnosing Covid-19 uses a long swab that reaches deep in the nasal cavity or the back of the throat to collect a sample of cells. But health care workers everywhere are running out of these specialized swabs, limiting their ability to run tests.
By contrast, the test developed by Rutgers scientists would involve people spitting into a tube and handing it off to a health care worker to be analyzed. This approach could be safer for health care workers, who risk being exposed to the virus when swabbing patients at a very close distance.
For now, the saliva-based test will only be available at certain health care facilities in New Jersey. But the method could eventually allow for broader population screening for active Covid-19 infections, for instance, if people were able to collect a saliva sample at home and then drop it off at a collection site or mail it in to be processed. The FDA, however, has not yet authorized any at-home coronavirus tests.