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May 10, 2020 - People wanting to know if they have the coronavirus should soon have an alternative to going to a doctor’s office and having a cotton swab shoved deep into their nasal cavity.

The Food and Drug Administration has given Rutgers University’s RUCDR Infinite Biologics the first emergency use authorization for an at-home saliva test, the agency said in a news release.

Up to now, most coronavirus testing has involved nose or throat swab samples in a doctor’s office or at a testing site. People who use the new test would spit into a vial at home and mail the vial to a lab, which would tell them if they’ve got the virus. A doctor would have to prescribe the test.

“Authorizing additional diagnostic tests with the option of at-home sample collection will continue to increase patient access to testing for COVID-19. This provides an additional option for the easy, safe and convenient collection of samples required for testing without traveling to a doctor’s office, hospital or testing site,” FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., said.

The at-home test should increase the speed and the number of people tested, said Andrew Brooks, chief operating officer and director of technology development at RUCDR, in a news release from Rutgers. But the test has other advantages, he said.

“It means we no longer have to put health care professionals at risk for infection by performing nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal collections,” Brooks said. “We can preserve precious personal protective equipment for use in patient care instead of testing.”

The FDA granted Rutgers emergency use authorization last month for a saliva test. The amended EUA issued a few days ago allows the at-home testing.

“Saliva testing will also be important for people who are in quarantine because they don’t know how long it will be until they are no longer infectious,” Rutgers University President Robert Barchi said. “This will allow health care workers to release themselves from quarantine and safely come back to work.”

WebMD Health News Brief

Sources, “FDA Authorizes First Diagnostic Test Using Home-Collection Saliva

Rutgers University, “Rutgers Saliva Test for Coroanvirus Gets FDA Approval

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