Researchers Are Testing Out a Saliva-Based COVID-19 Test That Could Be Used Without Trained Medical Personnel

Have you been tested for COVID-19? If you have, you probably know that it’s a little bit uncomfortable. Depending on where you got tested, you either had a nasal or mouth swab taken by a trained medical professional. Then, you had to wait for your results.

The inconvenience of getting tested for COVID-19 means that many people don’t want to get tested unless it’s necessary, and that means the virus could spread faster than if we were all getting tested on a regular basis.

UC Berkeley wants to make getting tested for COVID-19 as easy as possible. They are currently testing a test that uses saliva and doesn’t require anyone with medical training to assist in the testing. If it works, it could be super quick, easy and painless to get tested.

Jennifer Doudna is a UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology and of chemistry as well as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. She is also the executive director of a UC Berkeley group called the Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI) which is the group that is responsible for the possibly game-changing COVID-19 saliva testing. She told the Berkeley News, “When the pandemic hit, we asked ourselves, ‘What do we as scientists do to address the COVID-19 health emergency?’ That effort has focused on testing. We set up a clinical laboratory, we are now getting asymptomatic saliva testing going for the UC Berkeley campus. We hope that if it works well here, we can help disseminate this strategy elsewhere.”

Doudna shared that the goal is to make it safe for undergraduate students to return to campus in the fall. In order to do that, the ICI wants to make it easy for students to get tested on a regular basis. That way, they can quickly quarantine anyone who has the virus and prevent them from spreading it. 

Doudna explained just how easy this new saliva testing would be. “As opposed to swab testing, saliva testing is a lot simpler and allows people to literally spit into a tube. We think it will take about five or six minutes as they pass through our testing center here, so we hope to make this very painless, easy and simple for people to come by and get tested.”

Watch the video below for more information about this easy to take COVID-19 test.

Have you taken a COVID-19 swab test? Would you be more likely to get tested for COVID-19 if all you had to do was spit in a tube?