Loading articles...

Pair of studies suggest saliva COVID-19 tests are just as good as a nasal swab

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

MONTREAL – A pair of new studies is confirming the efficacy of saliva tests for COVID-19.

The latest study, led by Dr. Todd Lee and Dr. Emily McDonald from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, was published in JAMA Internal Medicine Friday.

Another study confirming the efficacy of the COVID-19 tests was published earlier in the week, suggesting that the saliva tests are just as good as nasal swabs, but they’re cheaper.

“Previous studies on the performance of saliva tests showed mixed results, but most of them compared saliva tests to the standard nasal swab test as if it was a perfect test. Interestingly, there are no perfect tests for COVID-19,” explained Dr. Guillaume Butler-Laporte, who is an author of the study released Friday.

Butler-Laporte says it’s likely that in previous studies saliva tests looked worse than they were.

McGill says these findings could influence global testing strategies.

The university adds nasal swab tests require trained healthcare personnel to perform, which limits testing capacity and the ability to deploy testing programs in the community.

A test that can be self-administered could greatly increase the ability to identify coronavirus infections.