The new saliva test for COVID-19 could be a big deal

  • The test, developed by Rutgers, only requires you to spit in a tube
  • It will keep healthcare workers safer
  • This type of testing is quicker and more efficient than swabbing

As the U.S. federal and state governments continue to struggle with enough coronavirus testing and how long it takes to determine whether somebody is positive for COVID-19, a new kind of testing could help quickly determine who has the virus that has infected millions globally.

In a statement released April 13, Rutgers University said its new saliva test to detect COVID-19 for the broader population has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“The impact of this approval is significant,” Andrew Brooks, the chief operating officer and director of technology development at RUCDR Infinite Biologics, said in a statement. “It means we no longer have to put health care professionals at risk for infection by performing nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal collections. 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. All of this combined will have a tremendous impact on testing in New Jersey and across the United States.”

These saliva tests, which allow a patient to spit into a tube instead of having to be uncomfortably swabbed for the virus in their nose and throat, would help keep healthcare workers safe. At the same time, it would help medical workers save their personal protective equipment for the treating of known COVID-19 patients, and since collecting saliva is more time-efficient than swabbing somebody’s nose and throat, more people could get tested quicker.

The saliva testing, however, isn’t something that could be done at home by an individual, according to the FDA. Still, saliva testing could be an important breakthrough.

“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,” Brooks said. “This will allow health care workers to release themselves from quarantine and safely come back to work.”

Sources: Rutgers, New York Times, USA Today, CNN

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