Gov. Parson calls saliva based COVID-19 test a ‘major development’

Published: Sep. 3, 2020 at 5:42 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 3, 2020 at 6:12 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KY3) - Last week, the FDA approved a new saliva-based test for COVID-19, developed by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis.

“This new saliva test is a major development that will improve our testing capabilities even more,” Missouri Governor Mike Parson said during a news conference Thursday.

There has been a lot of pressure to develop a quick test.

One of the biggest issues facing rapid tests is the number of false negative results. Making sure this test was accurate was crucial.

“We need a test we can get an answer on quickly so the person who comes back positive can alter their behavior,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri.

People can collect their own saliva by spitting into tubes. Doctors say the test is as accurate as the current nasal swab test, and can get results back within 24 hours.

Sometimes, the nasal swab test, which many patients say is not comfortable, can take several days because of backlogs in labs.

“This highly-accurate test will greatly expand testing capabilities within St. Louis and Missouri, allowing for repetitive testing and rapid identification of disease outbreaks,” said Jeffrey Milbrandt, MD, PhD, James S. McDonnell professor and head of the Department of Genetics and the McDonnell Genome Institute.

Parson announced Thursday some college towns in the state are seeing a 45% positivity rate for COVID-19, and a large amount of college students are the ones testing positive.

The fear, he said, is the students spreading it to those who are older and more vulnerable.

Millbrandt said tens of thousands of Missourians will be able to get this saliva-based test every week, which state officials and doctors believe will be a huge help to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“Right now, we think that we’ll have the capacity to do 20-30,000 tests per week, with the current pipelines and personnel we have now,” Milbrandt said. “This will allow us to help to return to school and work safely and help us identifying outbreaks in their early stage.”

Washington University is also in the process of coronavirus vaccine clinical trials.

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