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New COVID-19 Saliva Test Approved by FDA

Federal health authorities have granted emergency use authorization for a new COVID-19 test that relies on the usage of saliva. This is a major breakthrough that will allow for greater levels of coronavirus testing. Rutgers’ RUCDR Infinite Biologics is responsible for developing these tests. They received assistance from their partners at Accurate Diagnostic Labs and Spectrum Solutions.

Rutgers University made the announcement regarding FDA approval on Monday. These tests are a welcome sight for healthcare workers, as they are able to significantly reduce their potential rate of infection. At the moment, the primary form of testing for the virus requires healthcare workers to swab a patient’s throat or nose.

Clinics and hospitals are instructing staffers to discard their masks and gloves after these tests are administered. There are a number of institutions that are starting to struggle with a lack of supplies as a result of these practices. With this new testing method, patients are now given a plastic tube to spit into.

The current approach to screening for COVID-19 requires health care workers to take a swab from a patient’s nose or throat. To lessen infection risks, many hospitals and clinics instruct staff to discard gloves and masks after close contact with anyone who may have the virus. And many institutions are struggling with shortages of basic medical supplies, including gloves, masks and swabs.

With the new saliva-based test, patients are given a plastic tube into which they spit several times. They then hand the tube back to the health care worker for laboratory processing.

“This prevents health care professionals from having to actually be in the face of somebody that is symptomatic,” said Andrew Brooks, who directs the Rutgers lab that developed the test.

From there, the healthcare worker will take the tube into the laboratory for the necessary processing. This keeps healthcare professionals from potentially being exposed to someone who is not actually showing symptoms. Patients are also going to experience a greater level of comfort during the testing process.

Spitting into a tube is certainly preferable to having a swab placed inside of your nose. Best of all, the new saliva tests offer the same level of accuracy as the swabs. Some might be wondering if they are having a form of deja vu about these tests. Don’t worry, you are not losing your mind. Spectrum Solutions has produced similar tests that are used by various genealogy companies.

10,000 patient samples can be processed each day by the Rutgers lab. The FDA had two conditions for fast tracking the tests. For starters, the tests are only able to be administered in a healthcare setting by a trained professional. Their second condition is also very understandable. A patient that tests negative with the saliva test will need to be tested a second test using a different method.

Similar tests have used for other viruses, such as HIV. The White House coronavirus task force has already taken notice of these tests. Dr. Tom Moore is an infectious disease expert and he believes that the availability of these tests will serve as a game changer. The potential impact was referred to as “enormous”. Rapid, simple testing is one of the best ways to curb a pandemic.

These are the sorts of breakthroughs that need to be taking place at the moment. While there is much to be concerned about at this point in time, we could all use a glimmer of hope or two. Initially, the test is going to be made available through clinics and hospitals that have an affiliation with Rutgers University.

Starting this week, testing will be made available on a drive thru basis at a facility that is located in Edison, New Jersey. No at home tests have been developed at the present moment but scientists are hard at work. Point of care testing is starting to be approved by the FDA as well.

The material is collected and run through a machine that is roughly the same size as a counter top kitchen appliance. Once the process has begun, the device transmits the results to a computer that is connected to the machine. This leads to a significant decrease in the amount of time that a patient has to spend waiting for results.

We hope that the saliva test provides the necessary assistance and that the rest of the country is able to start utilizing it as soon as possible. Once these tests can be used by the rest of the country, we could potentially see a return to a semblance of normalcy. In the meantime, all we can do is cross our fingers and hope for the best.

It’s a powerless feeling, for sure. The healthcare professionals and scientists are working around the clock to make sure that this feeling does not persist over the long haul, though. As testing capabilities increase, we are finally going to be able to flatten the curve once and for all.

This should be our primary concern at the moment. While everyone wants to get back to their normal routine as soon as possible, we must remain patient. We need to be putting our faith in those who have our best interests at heart. It is the only way forward. All we can do until then is continue to socially distance and take the proper precautions.