A recent study by MSK’s Dr. N. Esther Babady and colleagues found saliva samples to be comparable to nasal swabs when testing for SARS-CoV-2. Between April and May, the researchers compared screening methods in MSK employees who were either showing COVID-19 symptoms or who had known disease exposure.
They found SARS-CoV-2 detection from posterior oropharyngeal saliva, but not from oral rinses or mouthwashes, equivalent to detection from nasopharyngeal swabs. Unlike nasal swab samples, saliva can be self-collected. This reduces potential disease exposure of medical staff and reduces the strain on the swab supply chain.