Rutgers University Develops Groundbreaking COVID-19 Saliva Test


By Sam Baghal, International News Editor

Rutgers University’s Human Genetics Institute has managed to develop an innovative saliva test for the coronavirus, providing a more efficient substitute for the current approach. Rather than having healthcare professionals take nose and throat swabs from patients, this new method only requires them to spit several times into a plastic tube. These samples are then taken into a laboratory for further processing. 

The Rutgers scientists who spent months in the lab, working out the kinks of this technique, say that the benefits of this testing are threefold. 

First, a simple “spit and seal” process is much less painful and invasive than swabbing deep into the nasal cavity. Plus, if desired, patients can conveniently provide the spit sample themselves; it does not have to be taken by a healthcare worker. 

Second, test results are much more timely. In opposition to the three to five day delay of the existing tests, the saliva evaluations are available within 24 to 48 hours. Since they are processed more quickly, more people can be tested in one day. 

Third, the spit test prevents professionals from having to actually be in the face of somebody that is symptomatic, making the entire process much more sanitary and lessening infection risks.

“If these tests help protect health officials, I am all for them. We can not disregard the safety of the frontline healthcare workers who are risking their well-being to combat the virus” says Junior Tyler VanDerVelden.

In actuality, Rutgers unveiled this breakthrough on April 2, however, FDA approval was only granted this past weekend on the grounds of “emergency use authorization”. Before this green light, it was only offered to patients and first responders within the Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health network, a Rutgers affiliate.

The White House’s COVID-19 task force has also begun conversing with the university, attempting to make these tests available nationwide.

“Even though the FDA usually takes a longer time to look into completely new medical processes, I’m happy they decided to spare some time and authorize these tests. Considering that this is a time of emergency, immediate action is needed to combat the virus” says junior Michelle Bae. 

For the first time in the United States, the saliva tests will be offered to the general public starting Wednesday at the Edison Motor Vehicle Commission test site in New Jersey where a drive-thru test format has been set up.