UW Health is using saliva collection for many patients that require COVID-19 tests. Currently, this method is being used for UW Health patients of at least 3 years old who are asymptomatic and being screened before an operation or procedure. This “spit test” is still performed via the RT-PCR testing method.
A nasal pharyngeal (nose) swab will continue to be used for children under 3 years old, patients who are not able to produce enough saliva for the spit test and those patients that have symptoms of COVID-19.
Saliva was validated in studies carried out at UW Health as an acceptable COVID-19 testing specimen type for use on the Hologic Panther TMA and CDC Roche-Lightcycler assays that are used here at UW Health.
Using saliva for the specimen may help all healthcare systems by reducing the demand for scarce testing resources such as nasopharyngeal swabs, collection kits and preservative solutions.