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COVID-19 has taken the whole world under its grip killing millions of people globally. Innumerable others are infected and suffering from the coronavirus attack. People with low immunity are becoming easy targets for the infection. World Health Organization (WHO) and innumerable other global health organizations are emphasizing on tests being carried out on as many people as possible. This is because a large percentage of the global population is asymptomatic. People who are coming in close contact with such asymptomatic people have high chances of getting infected. Therefore strict quarantine and isolation is the need of the hour.
Saliva tests for COVID-19
Various kinds of tests are being conducted for diagnosing COVID-19, the nose and throat swab collection being the most prominent ones. Apart from these, saliva tests are also being done in many places for detection of COVID-19. Infact using saliva for diagnosing COVID-19 infections has been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. However, this test is being done for emergency use. Saliva of patients is collected in a tube and sent for testing. The current methods of nose and throat swab collection were invasive and quite risky for the healthcare workers. The saliva test is comparatively safer than that.
Benefits of the saliva test for COVID-19
Infectious disease experts from across the globe opine that saliva testing for detecting COVID-19 is not only a quick process, but it is also more scalable when compared to current swab collections. The most important thing is that health care workers will be less exposed to the chances of infecting the viral infection from other patients.
At the population level, there is great benefit of the saliva test for detecting COVID-19. There is no need of the person to come face to face with any health care worker for this testing. This is less risky for the patient as well as for the health care worker. The sample just needs to be sent to the laboratory for testing and proves to be pretty useful.
Another very important benefit of saliva testing for COVID-19 is that there is less need of personal protective equipment and gear. No such equipment is needed while testing and for patient care as well. This reduces costing of testing as well as the risk factor associated with such testing.
Some problems with the saliva test for COVID-19
Though the saliva test for detection of COVID-19 comes with certain benefits, there might be some problems with the testing as well. As per doctors and researchers, the operating characteristics of the test are yet not very clearly known.
When the saliva from a person is collected in a tube, it is actually a mixture of three different kinds of fluids. First is the salivary gland fluid. Second, there is the crevicular fluid, which is secreted from the gums in the mouth. And the third and last fluid is the sputum. The sensitivity of this saliva test might not be like that of the nasopharyngeal swab test, which is extremely uncomfortable. There are confusions in this regard.
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