June 23, 2020 - 17:23 AMT
Yale, NBA team up to study efficacy of new Covid-19 test

Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health have partnered with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) to study the efficacy of a saliva-based method that quickly determines if someone is infected with the novel coronavirus, Yale News says.

A research team led by Yale’s Nathan Grubaugh and Anne Wyllie will begin testing select players, coaches, and staff from the NBA teams that have opted into the study, using a testing method they developed, known as SalivaDirect.

The results of the study are expected by the end of July and will be shared publicly.

SalivaDirect was developed this spring as an alternative to the nasopharyngeal (NP) swabbing method for SARS-CoV-2 testing. NP swabs are one of the most widely used sampling methods for the detection of respiratory pathogens such as Covid-19. But the method is invasive, involving inserting a swab deep into the nostril and into the region of the pharynx at the back of the throat. The swab is rotated to collect secretions, held in place for several seconds and removed. The sample is then sent to a certified lab for analysis.

By contrast, SalivaDirect is non-invasive and requires only a small saliva sample. The simplified method reduces testing times by over an hour. More importantly, the saliva method costs less, requires minimal training, and exposes health care workers to less or no risk, Grubaugh said. Preliminary results suggest SalivaDirect is highly sensitive, and the researchers’ goal is to optimize the method to be accurate at least 90% of the time.

The goal is to have the SalivaDirect method approved by the FDA and ready for use with the general public as soon as mid-July. Grubaugh and Wyllie are not seeking to commercialize the method. Rather, they are validating it for use with a wide range of commonly available reagents and equipment. As Covid-19 continues to impact communities around the world, the simplified method could help bring testing to those most in need, say the scientists.

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