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Don't like nasal swab? AU leads the way in new saliva test for coronavirus

(WRDW)
Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 3:23 PM EDT
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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The Gem Lab at the Medical College of Georgia is on the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. It's often behind the scenes, but a recent innovation at the lab will be available soon to all of us.

We can likely all agree that spitting in a tube is much easier than a nasal swab.

"This appears to be just as good and there may be other advantages, as well as, it may be more sensitive," said Dr. Phillip Coule, the chief medical officer at AU Health.

Coule speaks from personal experience. A saliva test will be more comfortable for everyone. But that wasn't the only goal when Dr. Ravindra Kolhe and his team started creating the test.

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"There was time when there were no swabs available anywhere to purchase or make," Kolhe said. "That was a time when everyone thought that we need to look at alternative sample types."

They began working on saliva testing at the beginning of May with only a few other labs across the country.

"At this moment, our goal is to show that it works at all temperatures, and it works as good as the nasal pharyngeal swab," Kolhe said.

Your results won't be any quicker, and AU is still waiting on approval because the Food and Drug Administration asks for more data on saliva testing than swab testing. But this is a move for the future to handle what comes next.

"When bigger populations are getting screened, we have all those resources available in the fall or in the second or third wave of the virus," Kolhe said.

AU says the FDA approval is a work in progress. But it's promising, and the hope is you and I could be saliva tested by the fall.

AU says they won't stop nasal testing even after saliva testing is approved. There will be multiple methods available for the public.

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