What is a COVID-19 Saliva Test?

November 15, 2020


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, scientists and medical experts are still looking for ways to improve testing. By now, several different types of tests can accurately identify a COVID infection. Many of these can be inconvenient, expensive, and invasive, but one new test may provide a much better option for potential COVID patients.

Common COVID Tests

The most common type of test for the COVID virus that has been in use for most the pandemic is the nose swab test. During this test, a healthcare worker will use a long cotton swab to take samples from inside the back of your nose and throat. This procedure should not be painful, but it could be uncomfortable. Younger children will usually only require a short nose swab.

The Original Saliva Test

The COVID-19 saliva test was approved for emergency use by the FDA in April. However, because it was still so new, it wasn’t yet available widely. At that time, the test could only be administered by a health care professional and required the use of special containers and chemicals. In May, the tests were allowed to be performed at home and sent in, but they still needed the specific solution and plastic tube.

The New Saliva Test

As of October 2020, a new saliva test has been developed and approved by the FDA for emergency use. Called SalivaDirect, this test is much more convenient and less expensive than the first version of the saliva test. Instead of needing specialized containers and solutions, any sterile plastic container will work fine.
Once the sample is taken, it is sent to a lab that has received authorization to process the samples. No reagent or solution is needed to identify the virus, so there’s less of a concern of testing supplies running short as they did in the early days of the disease.

Why Should I Choose the Saliva Test?

The newest iteration of the saliva test is incredibly effective at identifying the virus’s genetic material. Currently, the SalivaDirect test can only be done in the presence of a medical worker, but the company has applied for expanded use to allow users to collect their saliva samples in their own homes.
After the saliva has been collected, it will be tested at the lab. You can expect to have your results returned to you in 3-5 business days.
If you or someone in your household has been experiencing symptoms, or you’ve been exposed to the virus at all, look into a COVID-19 test. A quick call to your regular healthcare provider or urgent care center will let you know if the saliva test is available and when you’ll be able to come in for it.

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