NBA-tested COVID-19 saliva test authorized by the FDA

The saliva tests cost as little as $10 and are much less invasive than a swab test

The Food and Drug Administration has issued another emergency use COVID-19 diagnostic test that tests for Covid using a person’s saliva. SalivaDirect is a new fast and cheap testing process developed by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health.

Instead of healthcare professionals inserting a swap into the patient’s nasal cavity, SalivaDirect is a less invasive approach that tests saliva instead. The study, being partly funded by the NBA, was validated by NBA players in their “bubble” at Disney World. They were tested nearly every day with the option to give a saliva sample for SalivaDirect along with the more traditional swab test. These were then compared and tested for accuracy.

According to Assistant Secretary for Health and COVID-19 Testing Coordinator Admiral Brett P. Giroir, M.D., the SalivaDirect test is “yet another testing innovation game-changer that will reduce the demand for scarce testing resources.”

Unlike swab tests, SalivaDirect does require complex collection procedures and resources. Patients’ saliva can easily be self-collected in any sterile container which is not only less intimidating to patients but could also possibly reduce the risk of infection in healthcare workers.

In addition to that, collected samples do not need to go through an extraction process to get the coronavirus genetic material out. This does away with the need for special extraction kits that have been prone to shortages in the past.

Expected to cost as little as $10 per sample, Yale’s Nathan Grubaugh suggests that if cheaper alternatives like SalivaDirect would be implemented across the country, we may “finally get a handle on this pandemic, even before a vaccine.”

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SaliveDirect is the fifth saliva-based test that the FDA has authorized. Yale has expressed their intention to make the SalivaDirect protocol “open source”. Designated laboratories are free to follow Yale’s instructions to acquire components and perform the test in their own labs.