US FDA authorises use of Covid-19 saliva test for faster detection of cases


A medical worker drops a Covid-19 test sample into a plastic bag at a testing site in Berkeley, California, US (representational image) | David Paul Morris | Bloomberg File Photo


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Houston: The US health watchdog has authorised the emergency use of a new and expensive saliva based laboratory diagnostic test for COVID-19 that could be a game changer in the diagnosis of the infection as it will enable rapid testing amongst more people easily.

Stephen Hahn, the Food and Drugs Administration Commissioner, said the new saliva test would increase efficiency and avoid shortage of crucial test components like reagents.

Providing this type of flexibility for processing saliva samples to test for COVID-19 infection is groundbreaking in terms of efficiency and avoiding shortages of crucial test components like reagents, he said in a statement.

The agency has previously authorised four other tests that use saliva for sampling, but these yielded varying results. Authorisation of the new test occurs amid ongoing disarray over COVID-19 testing.

The US has been plagued by an inconsistent strategy for detecting the virus, thanks in part to persistent shortages and the use of a variety of different tests that have sometimes yielded unreliable results.

The new method called SalivaDirect is being further validated as a test for asymptomatic individuals through a programme that tests players and staff from the National Basketball Association (NBA).

SalivaDirect is simpler, less expensive and less invasive than the traditional method for such testing known as nasopharyngeal (NP) swabbing.

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