saliva test covid

Saliva-based COVID-19 test might soon be available in Canada

A saliva-based COVID-19 test, touted by health experts as much easier and comfortable than the widely-available nasal swap test, may soon be available in Canada. 

The U.S.-based Federal Drug Administration approved an emergency use authorization for SalivaDirect testing, which U.S. officials called a "testing innovation game changer that will reduce the demand for scarce testing resources,” in a FDA press release. 

At a Toronto press conference, the city’s associate medical officer of health, Dr. Vinita Dubey, said the FDA approval means this type of cheaper, faster testing could come to Canada in the "near future."

"Toronto Public Health has certainly made a recommendation to our provincial colleagues and federal colleagues for the consideration of saliva-based testing," she said on Wednesday.

Due to the discomfort typically felt during a nasopharyngeal swab, which involves inserting a long swab up up the nostril into the cavity between the nose and mouth, Dubey said saliva tests would make testing children easier as they head back into the classroom next month. 

“We know that for children, doing a classic nasopharyngeal swab is very difficult to collect and we know that parents have often declined testing because they don’t want their child to have that test,” she said at a press conference. 

"If we can have some sort of saliva-based collection, we feel that it will be more acceptable and easier to do for especially students and their families as we are heading back to school."

However, she said that there are also drawbacks to the saliva tests, which are not as accurate as the nasal swab method. 

"We recognize that the salvia-based testing has less of a sensitivity in its characteristics of being able to produce a positive but (it has) some benefits in its ease of use," Dubey said.

If the saliva-based tests are approved for use in Canada soon, as Dubey suggests, that will likely be welcome news for parents and returning students come September. 

Lead photo by

U.S. Air Force 


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