Saliva testing as good as a nasal swab to detect coronavirus.

Several testing protocols have been done evaluating mouth swabs, nasal swabs, saliva (spit), and mouth rinses. The sensitivity and accuracy of spitting in a cup are nearly equal to nasal swabs and superior to testing mouth rinses. Rinsing the mouth was thought to absorb the virus into a liquid which could then be tested using standard tests.

Saliva Test Genesis During the height of the pandemic with newly confirmed COVID-19 cases rising daily, the availability of personal protective equipment was limited. Healthcare workers collected mouth and nasal swabs to test for SARS-CoV-2. It is hazardous for the people collecting the same because of the closeness to the infected people.

Several options were explored. The goal was a fast test that protected the healthcare workers, provided accurate and sensitive results, and the cost of materials was competitive with the current methods at that time. Saliva, or spit, in a cup, provided a good solution.

Accuracy & Sensitivity Results–68035 Various tests were conducted on individuals to compare how accurate the saliva test is and if it was as sensitive to the amount of virus as other test methods. A mouth swab and spitting into a cup yielded around 93% accuracy comparing the results to each other. The sensitivity of these testing methods was almost 97%.

When nasal swabs and saliva samples were tested from the same people the accuracy was nearly 98% with a sensitivity slightly over 94%. Oral rinses did not fare as well. Less than two out of three were able to detect the coronavirus. Nasal swab tests and oral rinses agreed slightly over 85% of the time.

Field Testing
Testing needs to be done in remote areas for any type of test. Saliva testing was done in the remote areas of French Guiana. The samples were kept on ice, transported to the capital, Cayenne, then evaluated. The accuracy was assessed as high as 90% when comparing saliva samples with nasal swabs done in urban areas. It was discovered that the coronavirus is stable and detectable at room temperature for many hours. Cooling the sample containers with ice extended the time in the field for these tests.


I like the option of having a spit test when the other option is for a healthcare worker to swab my nasal passages. Home testing using saliva would be a game-changer for gaining control over who is and who is not infected.

Life Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –



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