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Saliva test for COVID-19 improves healthcare system

Story By Meghan Mamlock
Regional News Published 10/15/2020 5:49PM
Madison -

There is now a new way to get tested for COVID-19. All you have to do is give a sample of your saliva. 

Dr. Nasia Safdar, Medical Director of Infection Prevention of UW Health said, "This test is used for asymptomatic patients before an operation or procedure. But can also be used instead of the nasal swab".

With the rates of COVID-19 climbing and healthcare systems under stress the use of saliva for the specimen may help reduce the demand for scarce testing resources. These include nasal swabs, collection kits, and preservative solutions.

"It's main use seems to be for asymptomatic COVID patients. So patients who don't have symptoms where you want to rule out that they have COVID positivity," said Dr.Safdar.

The only downside to the saliva test is when the flu season intermingles.

"I think for those that have symptoms, you know COVID is one possibility but so will influenza be when the season comes around and other things," said Dr.Safdar. And you can't test for those on saliva. So it's better to get a swab for those patients".

Saliva testing also has an unexpected benefit that can protect healthcare workers

"The biggest thing is you know when you're doing a nasal swab on someone and often will provoke a cough and that is not the case with saliva. And so I think from the standpoint of the individual collecting the specimen, saliva seems to be a safer option then the nasal swab," said Dr.Safdar.

There are now two options of the saliva test that are ready and available across the nation. 

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