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CommunityLabSaliva vs Nasal Swabs for COVID-19 Testing

September 13, 2021
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For today’s quick turnaround PCR COVID-19 tests, either nasal swabs or saliva may be used to provide samples. Nasal swabs have been used for testing since early in the pandemic, while saliva tests are relatively new. If you want a COVID-19 test but are unsure which method you’d prefer, read on to learn some pros and cons of saliva vs nasal swab sampling.

How Saliva Sampling Can Be Used for COVID-19

First, can COVID-19 be transmitted through saliva? The short answer is yes. COVID-19 spreads through spit and mucus—usually through tiny liquid droplets that come out of your nose and mouth when you cough, sneeze, talk, sing, shout, or breathe. A study published in Nature Medicine shows that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can infect cells that line the mouth and salivary glands. This helps explain how COVID-19 can be detected by saliva tests, and why COVID-19 cases often include oral symptoms, such as loss of taste. Saliva may also play an important role in spreading SARS-CoV-2 throughout the body and transmitting it from person to person. So, while COVID-19 can unfortunately be transmitted through saliva, this characteristic also makes saliva a good sample for testing. And, with safe testing procedures, the risk of transfer is minimal.

Saliva Samples are More Sensitive than Nasal Swabs

Many of us have experienced the discomfort of having a nasal swab test for COVID-19. Additionally, when individuals have repeated nasal swab sampling performed, the results may vary—leading to unreliability. While there has been an uptick in the use of saliva for sample collection, individuals may wonder whether the newer saliva tests are as effective as nasal swabs in diagnosing COVID-19. Response from the medical community has been resoundingly affirmative. In fact, a 2020 study supports saliva is more sensitive than nasal swabs and offers a less intrusive sampling method for COVID-19 diagnosis.

PCR Tests are the Gold Standard of COVID-19 Testing

The FDA has determined that Yale’s SalivaDirect™ COVID-19 diagnostic test meets the emergency authorization criteria to test saliva samples for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. In addition to nasopharyngeal swabs, CommunityLab now also uses SalivaDirect sampling. SalivaDirect is a real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) diagnostic test that is more reliable than rapid antigen tests.

PCR COVID tests, which may take 24 to 48 hours for processing at a laboratory, are the gold standard for most accurately and reliably confirming a COVID-19 diagnosis. While antigen tests for COVID-19 may offer a quick answer within minutes, they are much less accurate and often require a PCR test for final confirmation of an individual’s infection status. Saliva nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) are accurate, with sensitivity and specificity similar to if not better than the nasopharyngeal NAAT, according to a new study. So, which sampling method should you choose for a PCR COVID-19 test?

Pros and Cons of Nasal Swab vs Saliva Sampling for PCR COVID-19 Tests

Pros and Cons of Saliva and Nasal Swab for COVID-19

The choice between a nasal swab or saliva PCR test is up to you. But, the convenience, ease and accuracy of SalivaDirect at home collection sampling is obvious. CommunityLab makes it simple for you to use a no swab saliva home collection kit for a COVID-19 PCR test. Moreover, saliva COVID-19 tests are quick and reliable, and will encourage the greatest participation to lower case numbers.

COVID-19 Saliva Sampling is a Game Changer

While the expense and availability of saliva collection tubes may be prohibitive to mass testing, saliva sample collection by patients themselves negates the need for direct interaction between healthcare workers and patients. This reduces bottlenecks in collection and processing, risks of transmission, and use of PPE. Currently, it’s a matter of availability since there are a limited number of laboratories offering saliva tests. Ultimately, saliva testing could be a game-changer and CommunityLab is here to help. CommunityLab’s SalivaDirect at-home COVID-19 collection kit can readily be used by individuals without symptoms, those preparing to travel, and people who may have been exposed to the virus.

If you’re in western North Carolina and wondering, “Is there a place to do a saliva COVID-19 test near me?” Then, visit our drive-thru site in Arden where you can choose your sampling preference—no swab saliva or a nasal swab—to test for COVID-19. If you’re based in a different location, we can also provide you with an at-home COVID-19 collection kit through the mail.

SalivaDirect does not require any special type of swab or collection device; a saliva sample can be collected in any sterile container. It also does not require a nucleic acid extraction step which is significant since extraction kits are prone to shortages. Saliva is so easy. You spit in a tube, seal it, and ship it to a laboratory. Saliva sample testing also uses laboratory methods that reduce the turnaround time by a few hours, compared to COVID-19 nasal swab testing.

CommunityLab SalivaDirect PCR tests for COVID-19 increase your peace of mind and protect everyone around you. Don’t delay in confirming a reliable, accurate test result. Request an at-home COVID-19 collection kit today.