Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced around a month ago that saliva-based testing for COVID-19 had been approved by the FDA. Although the tests can provide quick turnaround, local health care providers are waiting to see accuracy numbers before offering the test.
Dr. Edward Kammerer, chief quality officer at Mosaic Life Care, said the saliva test is a good option for mass testing and for tests to be done quickly as the test can return results within one day.
“Saliva tests have their distinct advantages,” Kammerer said. “They’re roughly about 85% accurate and there’s something called sensitivity and specificity inside of medicine, as to how we determine how effective a test is, at 85% accurate that’s good, not great.”
Dr. Francisco Aleman, a doctor with Northwest Health Services, said the standard Northwest Health Services has been using is the PCR test as it is the most accurate at above 98%. The one thing that the test lacks is quickness at times. As of now, the PCR test takes two days to come back but in backlogged situations, it could take up to 10 days.
“The saliva test has been shown to not be as good as a PCR,” Aleman said. “I think it can be used on some examples when people may not be able to get out of their home and are homebound and we want to facilitate tests for them.”
Aleman said that the slate of testing done at Northwest Health Services has slightly increased as cases have increased. He and Kammerer both agree on the fact that saliva testing can be used in situations where students or athletes want or need to be tested on a frequent basis.
“Having a rapid test that you can have quick access to, and test a lot of people in a short amount of time it’s gonna be key to be able to contain a potential outbreak,” Aleman said. “So once the saliva test is more accessible I think it could be highly used in scenarios where an outbreak could turn out.”
Aleman said the mask mandate should slow down the transmission of COVID-19, but he wants everyone to continue to practice social distancing and hygiene practices.