FDA approves first at-home saliva test for coronavirus

Posted at 6:07 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 18:07:24-04

(WXYZ) — The first at-home saliva test for COVID-19 has been authorized by the FDA. This diagnostic test is excepted to broaden screening by reaching those who feel sick but are too afraid to visit a health care facility or testing location.

I expect this saliva test will be well-received by the general public. Because I know quite a few patients who have felt sick but were too afraid to leave their home. They were worried that if they didn’t have the coronavirus, that they might pick it up while getting tested. So this home test will benefit not only those who are scared to leave their house but anyone who doesn’t have access to transportation or is quarantined. Also, I like this test because it’s less invasive. It doesn’t involve a nose or throat swab which can be uncomfortable. Instead, you just need to spit into a funnel. Your saliva will slide down into a preservative liquid. And once the liquid turns blue, the sample gets mailed in a sealed package to a lab where it gets analyzed.

Can people buy this online or is it available only by prescription?

This saliva diagnostic test developed by RUCDR Infinite Biologics and their collaborative partners is only available by prescription. So if you suspect you have the virus, you’ll need to talk with your family doctor about your symptoms first. Then if the doctor suspects that you have the virus, they’ll authorize you to receive a test in the mail from a distribution center. The beauty of all this is that it really cuts down any potential risky contact with others at testing locations or health care facilities. And it also helps keep our frontline workers safer as well by cutting back the number of infected people they’d be interacting with.

The FDA also approved a new antigen test – can you explain what this one is all about?

Yes, this type of testing looks for early toxic traces of the virus, particularly protein fragments that are linked to the virus. This is another type of nasal swab but on the plus side, results can be produced in as little as 15 minutes. So it’s pretty fast. Also, it’s supposed to be a cheaper test and the hope is that this type of testing will increase the number of tests the US does in a day. Right now we’re getting about 250,000 per day and the goal is to have millions of Americans tested in a day. Now before we get too excited about this, there is a downside to this antigen test, as noted by the FDA – the test is actually less reliable than the traditional PCR tests which are more sensitive. So there is a higher chance of false negatives. Meaning you think you don’t have the virus, but you actually do. So the FDA has requested that negative antigen tests results be confirmed with a PCR test. So people don’t accidentally spread the virus thinking they are not infected with it.

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