Researchers at Rutgers University have received the green light from the United States government for the first saliva tests that help diagnose COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, a new approach that could help expand testing options and reduce the risk of infection in health workers.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized the test under its emergency powers to quickly approve new tests and therapies to combat the outbreak.the University of New Jersey said Monday. At first, the method will be available at school-affiliated hospitals and clinics. The announcement came at a time when many communities across the country continue to have trouble locating and containing the coronavirus.
The current system for detection of COVID-19 requires the healthcare provider to remove a sample from the patient’s nose or throat. To reduce the risk of infection, many hospitals and clinics ask their staff to throw away gloves and masks after being around an infected person or a person who may have contracted the virus.. And many institutions are short of basic supplies like gloves, masks, and swabs.
With the new saliva test, patients receive a plastic tube into which they must spit multiple times. They then return the tube to the healthcare worker for processing in a laboratory.
“This prevents health professionals from having to face someone asymptomatic,” said Andrew Brooks, director of the Rutgers laboratory that developed the test.
An infectious disease expert who was not involved in the new test, said it would help overcome the discomfort and difficulties for the patient in taking a swab sample.
Rutgers tested the accuracy of his method by taking saliva and swab samples from 60 patients. In 100% of the cases, both results coincided.
The University developed the method with saliva collection kits from Spectrum Solutions, a Utah company that provides similar devices for DNA-based ancestry testing.. Rutgers’ lab can process 10,000 samples a day, Brooks said.