Saliva COVID-19 assay used in surge testing

Oct. 20, 2020

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began offering tests to detect SARS-CoV-2 that use saliva specimens at communities that are part of a federal surge testing effort for COVID-19, according to a press release. 

Made by Fluidigm, the saliva test detects SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, on a molecular level using a microfluidics platform. The accuracy of the test is comparable to other molecular-level tests of nasal swab samples, according to a clinical study conducted by the manufacturer. The HHS has traditionally provided nasal swab tests from other manufacturers to surge testing sites, which remain a choice for community officials. 

In Waco, TX, the first community to offer saliva testing for COVID-19 through the federal Community-Based Testing Site (CBTS) program, local officials are offering the Fluidigm saliva test at three sites through mid-November. The CBTS program provides COVID-19 “surge testing sites” for a limited period in areas where there has been a recent and significant increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. 

The Fluidigm integrated microfluidics platform used in the saliva test can generate as many as 6,000 test results per day. Test results will be available to individuals within three to five business days after taking the test. 

The technology’s rapid development and expansion is supported by a $34 million contract with the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

HHS has the release

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