To avoid the unpleasantness of a nasopharyngeal swab for COVID-19 testing, the Los Angeles Times reports that some test developers have turned to oral swabs of saliva and sputum and even saliva samples themselves.
It notes that some studies have suggested that viral RNA from SARS-CoV-2 is more easily detectable in saliva, with one finding viral RNA in saliva samples from 11 of 12 patients with confirmed COVID-19. "Saliva is not a traditional diagnostic fluid," Yale University's Anne Wyllie, who is part of the team that developed a saliva-based test dubbed SalivaDirect, tells the LA Times. That test as well as others from Rutgers University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of South Carolina, and SUNY Upstate Medical University, have received Emergency Use Authorizations from the US Food and Drug Administration, it adds.
But the LA Times also notes that, though saliva sampling has been adopted in some spots like Los Angeles County, where oral swabs are in use, it still represents a small percentage of the daily tests performed.