Researchers at New York University in Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) claim that saliva screening is far more accurate than the commonly used Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) nasal tests in the detection of the coronavirus.
Dr Youssef Idaghdour, an assistant professor of biology at New York University, said: “Collecting saliva is painless, less uncomfortable and limits exposure to the virus to healthcare workers as samples can be self collected. As there is no need to use a special collection tube, eliminating the need for special reagents, it is also cheaper.”
The new test will help detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic carriers or those in the early stages of infection.
According to Dr Idaghdour, the new technique will be able to overcome two of the main issues in the current standard testing protocols: false negatives and the challenge of testing asymptomatic individuals carrying low viral loads.
This research is backed by the Department of Health, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, the Mohammed Bin Rashid University Of Medicine and Health Sciences and other research facilities.
Researchers at NYUAD have discovered that the saliva test is more sensitive to detecting signs of the virus as compared to the nasal or throat swab.
If approved, the UAE could be rolling out saliva tests across the country in the coming months.