- Title: No nasal swab? No problem. UC Berkeley researchers study saliva for COVID test
- Date: 15th July 2020
- Summary: BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (JULY 13, 2020) (REUTERS) CATLAN REARDON, DOCTORAL STUDENT AT UC BERKELEY, WASHING HANDS AT SALIVA TEST BOOTH EMPTY SALIVA RECEPTACLE CLOSE-UP OF REARDON VOLUNTEER GIVING INSTRUCTIONS, AS SEEN THROUGH PLASTIC SHOWER CURTAIN REARDON, AS SEEN THROUGH PLASTIC SHOWER CURTAIN VARIOUS OF REARDON SPITTING SALIVA INTO RECEPTACLE REARDON HOLDING RECEPTACLE WITH SALIVA (SOUNDBITE) (English) CATLAN REARDON, DOCTORAL CANDIDATE IN POLITICAL SCIENCE AT UC BERKELEY, SAYING: "I think that was a little bit weird, but ultimately I took a couple tries. It's actually not a lot of spit." VIEW OF CHECK-IN DESK WITH SCANNER AND RECEPTICLE VOLUNTEER AT COMPUTER NEXT TO BOX OF UNUSED RECEPTACLES SIGN ON GROUND INDICATING SOCIAL DISTANCING REQUIREMENTS JENNIFER DOUDNA, PROFESSOR AT UC BERKELEY, DURING INTERVIEW (SOUNDBITE) (English) JENNIFER DOUDNA, PROFESSOR AT UC BERKELEY, SAYING: "One of the great things about saliva is it's pretty easy to collect. We don't need to have personnel in full personal protective equipment doing the collection. We're actually using trained volunteers in our kiosks here. We have undergraduate and graduate students at the university that are doing the actual collection, so that simplifies the process, it makes it a lot faster."
- Embargoed: 29th July 2020 17:23
- Keywords: UC Berkeley UC Berkeley research coronavirus coronavirus saliva test nasal swab pandemic public health saliva test spit test
- Location: BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
- City: BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA001CMX60CN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:A new Innovative Genomics Institute study is underway at the University of California, Berkeley to find out whether a saliva test can detect and identify asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus.
"One of the great things about saliva is it's pretty easy to collect," said professor Jennifer Doudna who is spearheading the study.
Doudna and her team from the Innovative Genomics Institute hope to prove the saliva test's ability so that they can apply for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). So far at least three other saliva tests have earned FDA approval for EUA. The Rutgers Clinical Genomics Laboratory in New Jersey was first, earning approval for its at-home saliva collection COVID-19 test in May. Phophorus and P23 Labs have also received EUA approval.
The testing - done on campus outside with mask requirements - is currently open to students, faculty and staff at the university. They must register online, check in with a QR code, and then follow social distance markings in line to booths where volunteers give instructions to participants.
The booths feature hand sanitizer, a waste bin and a clear shower curtain to separate the volunteers from the participants, who are then instructed to spit up to 1 milliliter of saliva into a clear plastic tube. The tubes are marked with a code that corresponds to the participant and cleaned with sanitizer by the participant, before being scanned and turned in to volunteers.
One advantage of the saliva test is that the collection does not require swabs, personal protective equipment, or trained medical professionals, Doudna said.
The saliva samples are then sent to the COVID-19 lab at the university's Innovative Genomics Institute, which is run by Doudna, where they are tested for the coronavirus.
Doudna said a key question is whether the saliva will be "as good a matrix for testing" as the nasal swabs.
"We're currently doing work to identify how much viral shedding happens in saliva compared to in the nose. And then to figure out whether the actual saliva test that we're running is as sensitive as to what we can detect when we're using nasal swabs," Doudna said, adding that they're running clinical tests with the nasal swabs to use as a comparative study.
Catlan Reardon, a doctoral candidate in political science, said the saliva test was easy, fast and straight-forward.
"I took a couple tries. It's actually not a lot of spit," she said. "The mouth swab was more uncomfortable for me. I ended up gagging and hitting the nurse who was giving me the test. So I think compared to the nasal and the mouth (tests), this was much easier, less invasive for sure."
Phil McGee, an administrative assistant III at the university's Lawrence Hall of Science, said the saliva test was preferable to the nasal test.
"It just takes a little bit of time to generate the saliva, a little hard to see the level in the tube you're filling up, but other than that, it's a pretty easy process," he said.
Doudna said they've tested 1,500 people so far and are planning to expand more in the coming weeks.
(Production: Nathan Frandino)
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