FDA grants emergency use to new, quick saliva-based COVID-19 test


FILE – In this Wednesday, March 11, 2020 file photo, a technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York’s Long Island. The Trump administration’s plan to provide every nursing home with a fast COVID-19 testing machine comes with an asterisk: the government won’t supply enough test kits to check staff and residents beyond an initial couple of rounds. A program that sounded like a game changer when it was announced last month at the White House is now prompting concerns that it could turn into another unfulfilled promise for nursing homes, whose residents and staff account for as many as 4 in 10 coronavirus deaths. Administration officials respond that nursing homes can pay for ongoing testing from a $5-billion federal allocation available to them. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

ATLANTA, Ga. (CNN Newsource/WSAV) – The FDA has approved a new saliva-based coronavirus test that could be a game-changer following a grim weekend in the United States.

The total of American lives lost since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is approaching 170,000. Nationwide, cases are trending down in many states, but cases like California and Florida are still reporting new cases.

“I think in the next three or four days the state will surpass 10,000 people who have died,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said. “And, you know, we’re thinking about the death rate going down and we’re hoping it’s just a few dozen. Just think about what we’re normalizing. We’re literally normalizing dozens and dozens or 50 or more people dying every single day. That’s something that’s unimaginable at any other time.”

At University of North Carolina, the third cluster of cases is being reported, this time tied to a fraternity. Over in Alabama, health officials report that more than 7,000 children have tested positive.

Here in Georgia, a 7-year-old boy and a 15-year-old have died from coronavirus complications.

All of these reports are causing parents and educators to face a difficult decision on how to start school.

“If you’re in the community with high rates of COVID-19 even with mask on, [it’s] likely not safe to put the kids in an indoor school building with teachers and other staff members that may be high risk themselves,” Doctor Megan Ranney said. “Listen, we don’t want to put our kids and our teachers at risk or kids bringing the virus home to their parents or their grandparents. That’s a burden that kids shouldn’t have to live with.”

Late Saturday, the FDA announced some potentially promising news related to testing.

The FDA has granted emergency use authorization to a new method that tests a person’s saliva.

“This test which would require just a small bit of saliva it doesn’t need the same reagents and swabs that have been the limiting steps to create testing at scale in this country,” Dr. Abdul El-Sayed said. “It really could be a game changer if we can deploy it.”

The new test is called the SalivaDirect COVID-19 diagnostic test and was developed at Yale School of Public Health. The FDA says a saliva test eliminates the need for nasopharyngeal swabs, which has been prone to shortages, and helps ease patient fears associated with testing.

“SalivaDirect does not require any special type of swab or collection device; a saliva sample can be collected in any sterile container,” the FDA said in a news release. “This test is also unique because it does not require a separate nucleic acid extraction step.”

Read more about the SalivaDirect test, here.

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