Saliva COVID-19 Test as Good as, Perhaps Beats, Nasal Swab:
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A COVID-19 saliva test protocol developed by researchers at Yale University appeared to perform at least as well as nasal swabs in a study of hospital patients, a finding that may help encourage more frequent use of self-collected samples.

In a letter published in NEJM researchers reported on testing done on 70 patients. These patients already had tested positive for COVID-19, which was confirmed with a positive nasopharyngeal swab specimen at admission to Hospital.

At 1 to 5 days after diagnosis, 81% of the saliva samples were positive, as compared with 71% of the nasopharyngeal swab specimens.

Researchers told that at days 6 to 10 after diagnosis, 76% of the saliva samples were positive, as compared with 65% of the nasopharyngeal swab specimens. The results flip at the day 11 mark, with 41% of the saliva samples showing positive results, as compared with 50% of the nasopharyngeal swab specimens.

They also reported on screening results for 495 healthcare workers who were asymptomatic for COVID-19. The researchers detected SARS-CoV-2 in saliva specimens obtained from 13 people who did not report any symptoms at or before the time of sample collection. Of these 13, nine had collected matched nasopharyngeal swab specimens by themselves on the same day and seven of these specimens tested negative. The 13 positive diagnoses were later confirmed with additional nasopharyngeal samples.

Greater availability and ease of COVID-19 tests is critical to preventing spread of the virus, they added.

Source: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2016359
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