We’ve seen or experienced nasal or throat COVID-19 testing…and perhaps even anal testing. But could saliva testing be the avenue to produce rapid and accurate test results and thereby restore confidence in travel?
Saliva COVID-19 Testing: Less Invasive, More Accurate
In New Zealand, staff at Auckland Airport undergo regular COVID-19 testing. Though stringent lockdowns, contact tracing, and border closures, New Zealand has experienced less than 5,000 COVID-19 cases and 25 deaths. One way it stops community spread is to frequently check all “front-line” staff, including airport workers.
But nose swabs or throat softs (I cannot personally speak for anal swabs…) are immensely uncomfortable. There’s nothing like putting a stick up your nose all the way past your eye…
Enter saliva testing, specifically the SHIELD test developed by the University of Illinois. Not only is it less invasive, but it produces quicker and more accurate results. Furthermore, it does not require health care professionals to administer.
Mary-Liz Tuck, a manager at Auckland Airport, told Stuff New Zealand:
“It will mean we can have more frequent surveillance testing – and that means a better chance of catching positive cases early before they reach the infectious stage, reducing the risk of community transmission.”
A widespread adaption of COVID-19 saliva testing could create conditions to detect the virus before symptoms begin, thereby further reducing community spread. That could embolden travel and commerce once again.
The idea of a rapid, accurate test without having to endure the discomfort of a nasal or throat swab (I find nasal swabs the worst) is appealing. I was not even aware of such testing technology, but will now seek it out next time I must travel.
Would you be more conformable with testing if it there was no discomfort?