US authorizes COVID-19 saliva test tested on NBA players

Washington, Aug 15 (efe-epa).- The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Saturday that it has urgently authorized a COVID-19 test based on saliva samples tested for more than a month on NBA basketball players.

The test, developed by researchers at Yale University, has attracted the attention of many public health experts because, unlike other tests, it does not require a specific instrument to record the sample, but the saliva can be stored in any sterile container and submitted for examination.

The test is the fifth authorized by the FDA to use saliva samples to detect COVID-19, but some analysts find it especially promising in part because it does not require going through an extra step to separate the nucleic acid, avoiding kit shortages.

According to The Wall Street Journal, this will make the product much more affordable and accessible than a nasal swab, since each sample will cost between one and five dollars to store, and can be sent to any laboratory for examination.

“Giving this kind of flexibility to process saliva samples and check for COVID-19 infection is revolutionary in terms of its efficiency and avoiding a shortage of crucial components for testing,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement.

The NBA began collaborating with Yale researchers in June and several league players began submitting their saliva samples to help develop the test, called SalivaDirect, which can produce up to 90 results from different samples in less than three hours.

Scientists needed a large asymptomatic population to compare the results of their tests with saliva samples and those of traditional nasal tests, in order to ensure the accuracy of their new protocol, and they found it in the NBA.

Anonymously, NBA players, coaches and other team workers underwent regular nasal, oral and saliva tests and sent them to two laboratories and Yale scientists, who compared the results of the different methods.

From now on, the Yale team will continue its study with NBA personnel located at Walt Disney World, Florida, and according to the Wall Street Journal, so far they have not found any positive cases among those in the park facilities, which may complicate or delay the investigation.

According to the FDA, Yale intends to share the SalivaDirect protocol with interested laboratories as “open source,” meaning that as long as they follow the instructions of the scientists who developed the test and demonstrate that they have basic equipment, they can process it. EFE-EPA


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