COVID-19 testing

3 Things to Know About Yale's COVID-19 Saliva Test

NBCUniversal, Inc.

There is a new and groundbreaking way to test for COVID-19 and it was developed by a team of scientists in Connecticut. Their work could make testing more accessible and more affordable.

Researchers said the saliva-based COVID-19 test developed in the laboratories at the Yale School of Public Health is already being called a potential 'game-changer' in the global fight against this virus.

Before coronavirus arrived in the United States, Yale School of Public Health postdoctoral fellow Chantal Vogels was studying viruses transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks.

"Then the pandemic hit, and we just quickly shifted gears towards COVID-19,” Vogels said.

Vogels became one of the lead scientists developing something called SalivaDirect, a COVID-19 test that she said is different in three key ways.

  • First, SalivaDirect uses saliva, of course, which is easier to sample compared to using those long nasal swabs, often referred to as a 'brain tickler'.
  • Secondly, SalivaDirect skips the complicated step of having to extract genetic material of the virus in order to detect it.
  • Lastly, this test is flexible because it does not require a specific swab or collection device and it can also be used with reagents from different vendors, Vogels said.

"If one product is running into supply chain bottlenecks, there's at least other options out there that you can use,” said Vogels.

Vogels' team recently received an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, which means other labs around the country can be designated to replicate the test. The end goal, Vogels said, is increased access to tests that are quicker and less expensive. 

"We're working closely with the FDA, with Yale to really roll this out,” Vogels said.

The NBA, which gave about a half million dollars to develop SalivaDirect, used the test on some players before they were allowed enter ‘the bubble’ in Florida.

"It was great to find out that it works,” Vogels said. She hopes that her team's work is a great first step. "We need multiple different options for tests so that overall we can all together develop methods that can be used in different settings,” she said.

Click here to learn more about SalivaDirect. 

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