Saliva tests are very useful for detecting any infections, especially in large environments such as schools. But they don't replace molecular testing
To test. To track. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, these two watchwords resound in the ears of those who have to follow the progress of the infection. Only by recognizing early people who may have contracted the infection, and perhaps do not show particular symptoms, can one try to better limit the outbreaks and ensure that the third T, or the treatment, has the desired effects.
In order to further increase the potential to detect any infections, now, saliva tests are about to arrive. They could be very useful in terms of screening, for example in schools, but they cannot replace the normal molecular tests from nasopharyngeal swabs, necessary for diagnosis.
How to make
The experiments on this diagnostic modality are certainly offering interesting results. Suffice it to mention in this sense a study conducted by the University of Singapore and appeared in Scientific Reports, which showed on a population collected in a dormitory and in a care center for non-serious patients that these tests are able to collect the positivity to the virus. sars-CoV-2 of subjects with efficacy.
Above all, their sensitivity would be particularly useful, since they were also able to identify subjects who did not have any symptoms and people who had mild disorders and in any case with a low viral load, or with "few" viruses present in the body. Obviously, given these data, we must not think that these are tests that allow a diagnosis with certainty. For this reason they could be considered as the so-called "fast" or antigenic swabs, very useful for screening but which still require confirmation if diagnostic certainty with molecular tests is required.
Having made these necessary clarifications on the tests that should arrive, it must be said that the "withdrawal" of the sample is simpler than the swab that is carried out high in the nasal cavities and deep in the mouth. This is why we speak of these means as potential screening checks, perhaps on a sample basis, especially in large community environments, such as schools, even a child can in fact be subjected to the examination without particular difficulties.
Generally, we proceed by delivering a small stick that has a piece of cotton at the end (but you can also proceed with a wad on its own, to keep in your mouth until it fills with the saliva). Once this phase is finished, then, you can move on to take the sample and place it in a sterile test tube or in a small plastic container that is sent to the laboratory for subsequent analysis.
But be careful: for the possible dissemination of this screening strategy over large numbers, the necessary organization must also be in place. It should in fact be remembered that saliva can naturally be very "variable" and therefore in some cases it may not be optimal for the equipment currently used to search for the "signs" of the virus. Furthermore, it is necessary to think of a laboratory very close to the points where the screening is carried out in order not to lose something in terms of the sensitivity of the examination.
However, one certainty remains: like the so-called antigenic or rapid swab, salivary tests can also identify the presence of parts of the Sars-CoV-2 virus and therefore inform about the presence or absence of the infection. Finally, there is another aspect that should not be underestimated: the saliva test could be useful if the doctor considers it, as an alternative to looking for antibodies, to see the defensive reactions after an infection or after vaccination.
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