Researchers said in a new study published on January 12, 2021, saliva sampling had a similar yield to lower costs than nasopharyngeal swabs for detecting SARS-CoV-2.
Given these findings, plus the advantages of reduced invasiveness, reduced need for trained health care professionals, lower risk for occupational exposure, and reduced need for specialized supplies, we suggest that saliva sampling replace nasopharyngeal swabs in most populations being tested for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
Saliva sampling has already been launched in some jurisdictions, and a laboratory protocol has received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Although laboratories analyzing saliva will need to validate analytic methods, this can be done and implemented much more quickly than approving, producing, and distributing new tests, such as those intended to be used daily or at the point of care, added these researchers.
This study's most important strength is the large number of studies included in the meta-analysis, with participants from many settings with diverse clinical characteristics.