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ASU develops state’s 1st saliva-based coronavirus test for faster results

(Biodesign Institute Photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona State researchers have developed a new coronavirus test that is expected to provide quick and accurate results.

ASU has created the state’s first saliva-based COVID-19 test, which will be easier and more readily available to Arizonans, the school said Tuesday.

“This new saliva-based test will be a real game-changer for those individuals who want to know whether or not they have an active COVID-19 infection,” ASU Biodesign Institute Executive Director Joshua LaBaer said.

“As we return to the workplace, schools and other daily activities, testing early and often is going to be the best way to help us prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The saliva test is 100% accurate if there is any detachable amount of the virus in one’s body, ASU said.

Compared to other tests such as the nasal swab, the saliva test is less invasive, with test subjects spitting down a straw-like tube, and has less of a risk of exposure to medical professionals.

The new test also requires less personal protective equipment, allowing for other uses of the PPE, and requires less staffing at collection sites.

“One of the bottlenecks with diagnostic testing has been the ability to quickly obtain samples,” LaBaer said. “Even with a highly-trained medical staff, medical providers have been limited to an average of 100 people with the nasopharyngeal swab collection in a four-hour window of drive-thru testing. The goal of the saliva tests was to overcome these obstacles.”

Not only should the supply chain for test kits be easier to maintain, but the addition of the saliva tests should bring down the overall cost of testing, ASU said.

The Arizona health department reported 702 new coronavirus cases and 28 additional deaths Friday morning. The state’s documented total of cases increased to 18,465, while the death toll reached 885.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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