Saliva samples are identified as a quicker way to diagnose the SARS-CoV-2 virus when compared to nasal swabs as per a study published in Microbiology Spectrum, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.
“That is important because people can spread COVID-19 before they know that they have it. Earlier detection can reduce the disease’s spread,” says coauthor Donald K. Milton, M.D., DrPH, a professor of occupational and environmental health at the Institute for Applied Environmental Health, University of Maryland School of Public Health, College Park.
‘New study finds that saliva testing might be better and quicker than the standard method of COVID-19 testing nasal swab.’
The study team drove their motivation through the urgent need to increase testing early in the pandemic.
“We collected saliva and mid-turbinate [nasal] swab samples from contacts every 2 or 3 days during their quarantine period. All samples were tested using real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction [RT-PCR] to detect SARS-CoV-2 and measure how much viral RNA was in the samples. We then analyzed how these results changed in the days before and after symptom onset. Early in the course of infection, saliva was significantly more sensitive than mid-turbinate nasal swabs.” “We expect that if rapid saliva tests become available, they could be a major advance from the current nasal swab-based rapid tests,” says Milton.