Saliva-based test for coronavirus gets emergency FDA approval

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Credit: Associated Press/Rick Bowmer

There are now more options for COVID-19 testing as the US Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization on April 13 for a saliva-based test, providing an alternative to the swab testing currently performed.

Currently, testing for COVID-19 involves a healthcare professional inserting a swab into each nostril, one at a time, to the nasopharynx at the back of the nasal cavity, gently scraping the tissue to collect material, and sending off for analysis, according to UC Davis Health. This method is cumbersome as it needs to be done by a qualified worker wearing fresh gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE), which are in short supply. Additionally, many areas are experiencing a lack of tests available or a large backlog of samples to process.

Related article:  There are 7 coronaviruses that infect humans. Here's what makes SARS-CoV-2 so dangerous

The collection of a saliva sample requires spitting into a tube, resulting in a much less invasive procedure without tying up large amounts of PPE. Per the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) instructions, the testing would still occur in a healthcare setting under the supervision of a qualified professional.

USA Today reports that the saliva tests could be given to patients as soon as April 15. Until further notice, the tests can only be administered by RUCDR in New Jersey.

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