Saliva Testing

February 8, 2021

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Anchor lead: Will testing saliva for Covid-19 replace nasopharyngeal swabs? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Testing saliva for Covid-19 has multiple advantages over the gold standard nasopharyngeal swab, two new studies report. Brian Garibaldi, a critical care medicine expert at Johns Hopkins, says these results must be viewed in context.

Garibaldi: When you think about these tests you have to think what is the reason I’m using this test? How am I going to put that positive or negative result into context? So the saliva based tests are easier, they don’t require putting a catheter up your nose so you don’t require any training to do them, they’re quicker to do, I think people will find them less invasive and less unenjoyable to get done, they’re fairly sensitive but they’re not as good as a PCR test, they’re not going to give you the same level of sensitivity so you’re going to miss cases. I think it’s a balance between if we can get more people tested it’s okay to miss a few more cases.  :32

Garibaldi says when transmission and cases are high, saliva may be okay for providing a broad picture of rates of infection in a community. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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