Saliva Testing Is More Effective Than Nasal Swabbing at Detecting SARS-CoV-2 During Early Infection

Saliva Testing Is More Effective Than Nasal Swabbing at Detecting SARS-CoV-2 During Early Infection ...

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is more rapidly identified by genetic testing than testing of nasal swabs, according to Theresearchis, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

COVID-19 is important because people may spread before they know when they get it, according to Donald K. Milton, a professor of occupational and environmental health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, College Park. Several diseases may be reduced if detected before.

The aim of the research was that early in the epidemic, an urgent need to increase testing was accompanied by a shortage of supplies, particularly nasal swabs, which was then the standard method for collecting samples for testing.

In May 2020, researchers performed weekly testing of saliva from healthy community volunteers, which continued over the next two years. That made us wonder whether saliva was better for catching pre-symptomatic patients than conventional nasal swabs.

To answer this question, scientists used data from a similar study of close contacts of people with confirmed COVID-19. We collected saliva and mid-turbinate [nasal] swab samples from contacts every two or three days during their quarantine period, according to Milton. All samples were tested using a real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction [RT-PCR] to detect SARS-CoV-2 and to measure how much viral RNA was found in the samples. We then analyzed how these

According to the study, saliva was significantly more sensitive than mid-turbinate nasal swabs, particularly so before symptoms began to develop, indicating that previous studies had shown that pre-symptomatic transmission played a greater role than symptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

The results have implications for improving public acceptance of COVID-19 testing, reducing the cost of mass COVID-19 screening, and improving the safety of healthcare workers. In the latter case, saliva self-testing avoids the close contact between patient and healthcare worker that nasal swabbing involves and avoids causing patients to cough and sneeze, thereby spreading virus particles as a result of swabbing the sensitive nasal passages.

According to Milton, our research supports the use of saliva in large-scale screening in schools and workplaces as a means of improving screening rates as well as early detection. They would be a significant increase from the current nasal swab-based rapid screenings.

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