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The Health 202: The newest way to test for coronavirus: Spitting in a tube

Getting tested for coronavirus may soon become as simple as spitting in a tube.

Two states – Oklahoma and New Jersey – are starting to offer saliva testing to determine whether patients are infected with the novel coronavirus.

This collection method could ultimately prove safer for medical workers at risk of catching coronavirus by swabbing the noses and throats of infected patients – and help conserve valuable personal protective equipment that’s in high demand.

It may also be simpler and more convenient for patients: People can collect their own sample by simply spitting into a collection vessel, avoiding the more invasive swabbing that some find uncomfortable.

Officials in Oklahoma — one of the states allowing some businesses to reopen — will announce a 30-day plan this week to use saliva testing in 150 long-term care facilities with 17,500 residents. New Jersey officials are also planning to deploy saliva tests in group homes, including state-run facilities for people with developmental disabilities and nursing homes in South Jersey.

Spectrum Solutions COVA-19 Testing Kits

© Spectrum Solutions™ Bloomberg News/George Frey

Getting tested for coronavirus may soon become as simple as spitting in a tube.

Two states – Oklahoma and New Jersey – are starting to offer saliva testing to determine whether patients are infected with the novel coronavirus.

This collection method could ultimately prove safer for medical workers at risk of catching coronavirus by swabbing the noses and throats of infected patients – and help conserve valuable personal protective equipment that’s in high demand.

It may also be simpler and more convenient for patients: People can collect their own sample by simply spitting into a collection vessel, avoiding the more invasive swabbing that some find uncomfortable.

Officials in Oklahoma — one of the states allowing some businesses to reopen — will announce a 30-day plan this week to use saliva testing in 150 long-term care facilities with 17,500 residents. New Jersey officials are also planning to deploy saliva tests in group homes, including state-run facilities for people with developmental disabilities and nursing homes in South Jersey.

Spectrum Solutions COVA-19 Testing Kits

© Spectrum Solutions™ Bloomberg News/George Frey

The U.S. government is interested in saliva testing as part of the solution.

This way of collecting samples has already attracted interest from the White House and officials from New York, Illinois and other states seeking to ramp up testing quickly, said Andrew Brooks, chief operating officer at Rutgers University’s RUCDR Infinite Biologics, where the approach was pioneered.

“You will see a lot of it really soon,” Brooks told me, adding that he’s also gotten inquiries from people in South Korea and China on the subject.

Saliva is already widely used in genetic testing.

The swabs needed for nasal and throat testing have been in such short supply that President Trump has used the Defense Production Act to compel an unnamed company to produce them.

Collecting saliva samples, which can then be analyzed using the same equipment used for swab testing, could help reduce the need for more swabs.

Rutgers researchers developed a saliva-based test that detects infections of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, using saliva collection devices similar to those used by genetic testing companies such as 23andMe and Ancestry.com.

And Oklahoma noticed. The state was already working with Oklahoma State University’s diagnostic laboratory to expand its testing capacity. Elizabeth Pollard, who spent her career working on genetic testing before becoming Oklahoma’s deputy secretary of science and innovation earlier this year, saw Brooks discussing the test on the news and reached out. “I chuckled because Dr. Brooks had been a long-term friend and colleague,” Pollard told my colleague Juliet Eilperin in a phone interview Friday. “We didn’t need to re-create the wheel.”

The OSU lab has now independently validated the test first created at Rutgers and has applied for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, so the test can be conducted more broadly. Pollard said she expects the state will get approval soon, telling Juliet it “will certainly open up our testing options and make it easier to test within nursing homes.”

Spectrum Solutions SDNA-1000 Only EUA Approved Saliva Collection

© Spectrum Solutions™ SDNA-1000 Only EUA Authorized Saliva Collection Device for COVID-19 Testing | Photo Credit: Leslie Titus Bryant

This way of collecting samples has already attracted interest from the White House and officials from New York, Illinois and other states seeking to ramp up testing quickly, said Andrew Brooks, chief operating officer at Rutgers University’s RUCDR Infinite Biologics, where the approach was pioneered.

“You will see a lot of it really soon,” Brooks told me, adding that he’s also gotten inquiries from people in South Korea and China on the subject.

Saliva is already widely used in genetic testing.

The swabs needed for nasal and throat testing have been in such short supply that President Trump has used the Defense Production Act to compel an unnamed company to produce them.

Collecting saliva samples, which can then be analyzed using the same equipment used for swab testing, could help reduce the need for more swabs.

Rutgers researchers developed a saliva-based test that detects infections of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, using saliva collection devices similar to those used by genetic testing companies such as 23andMe and Ancestry.com.

And Oklahoma noticed. The state was already working with Oklahoma State University’s diagnostic laboratory to expand its testing capacity. Elizabeth Pollard, who spent her career working on genetic testing before becoming Oklahoma’s deputy secretary of science and innovation earlier this year, saw Brooks discussing the test on the news and reached out. “I chuckled because Dr. Brooks had been a long-term friend and colleague,” Pollard told my colleague Juliet Eilperin in a phone interview Friday. “We didn’t need to re-create the wheel.”

The OSU lab has now independently validated the test first created at Rutgers and has applied for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, so the test can be conducted more broadly. Pollard said she expects the state will get approval soon, telling Juliet it “will certainly open up our testing options and make it easier to test within nursing homes.”

Spectrum Solutions SDNA-1000 Only EUA Approved Saliva Collection

© Spectrum Solutions™ SDNA-1000 Only EUA Authorized Saliva Collection Device for COVID-19 Testing | Photo Credit: Leslie Titus Bryant

Its predicted saliva testing will allow 3x as many people to be tested in a day and reduce the need for PPE by 90%

Brooks predicted the saliva testing will allow three times as many people to be tested in a day and reduce the need for personal protective equipment by 90 percent. In New Jersey, home to Rutgers, saliva testing is already being administered at several screening sites. The expanded testing will first be offered to 1,238 residents and around 4,300 employees at the five state-run developmental centers.

Saliva testing could make it easier to get biological samples, especially for vulnerable groups.

Using nasal and throat swabs can be particularly difficult with older people and those who are on oxygen or hooked up to other equipment. It’s “not a pleasant way to test,” Pollard noted.

“It isn’t the best strategy if we can come up with other options,” she said.

Big-picture: There’s some good news on the testing front in the United States.

Daily testing numbers in the United States rose in recent days. The U.S. had been testing around 140,000 each day for the past few weeks, and is now testing in the low 200,000s – an upward trajectory experts say is needed for the country to safely reopen. About 1.7 percent of the country’s population has now been tested for the virus.

Beyond the saliva testing, Oklahoma also plans to administer antibody testing for long-term care medical workers, as well as an additional 250 medical workers in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Ponca City. These cities were chosen due to having a larger number of positive cases when the virus first appeared in Oklahoma, which should allow antibodies to now be present in people’s system.

Spectrum Solutions COVID-19 SDNA-1000 Saliva Collection Kit

© Spectrum Solutions™ Saliva Collection Device | Photo Credit: Leslie Titus Bryant

Brooks predicted the saliva testing will allow three times as many people to be tested in a day and reduce the need for personal protective equipment by 90 percent. In New Jersey, home to Rutgers, saliva testing is already being administered at several screening sites. The expanded testing will first be offered to 1,238 residents and around 4,300 employees at the five state-run developmental centers.

Saliva testing could make it easier to get biological samples, especially for vulnerable groups.

Using nasal and throat swabs can be particularly difficult with older people and those who are on oxygen or hooked up to other equipment. It’s “not a pleasant way to test,” Pollard noted.

“It isn’t the best strategy if we can come up with other options,” she said.

Big-picture: There’s some good news on the testing front in the United States.

Daily testing numbers in the United States rose in recent days. The U.S. had been testing around 140,000 each day for the past few weeks, and is now testing in the low 200,000s – an upward trajectory experts say is needed for the country to safely reopen. About 1.7 percent of the country’s population has now been tested for the virus.

Beyond the saliva testing, Oklahoma also plans to administer antibody testing for long-term care medical workers, as well as an additional 250 medical workers in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Ponca City. These cities were chosen due to having a larger number of positive cases when the virus first appeared in Oklahoma, which should allow antibodies to now be present in people’s system.

Spectrum Solutions COVID-19 SDNA-1000 Saliva Collection Kit

© Spectrum Solutions™ Saliva Collection Device | Photo Credit: Leslie Titus Bryant

“Blueprint” for increasing testing capacity

Several drug and pharmacy executives joined Trump at a briefing last night, as the president announced a “blueprint” for increasing testing capacity. The executives promised a rapid rollout of more testing in the coming weeks (although their previous promises haven’t always panned out). “Among the companies, Quest Diagnostics plans to increase the number of diagnostic tests it analyzes each day from 50,000 now to 100,000 by the end of May and has reduced its turnaround time to between 24 and 48 hours,” Juliet and Mike DeBonis write. “LabCorp will ramp up from 60,000 diagnostic tests a day and begin offering a take-at-home test to consumers across the country.”

Walgreens said it expects to have 23 drive-through testing locations across 15 states by the end of the week. And CVS chief executive Larry Merlo said his chain of pharmacies plans to expand coronavirus testing to nearly 1,000 locations by the end of May and process as many as 1.5 million tests a month.

“Beginning in May, we will install testing capabilities in up to 1000 CVS pharmacies,” Merlo said at the White House press conference. “We’ll be using our drive-through’s and our parking lots with swab testing.”

Spectrum Solutions COVID-19 SDNA-1000 Saliva Collection Testing Kit

© Spectrum Solutions™ COVID-19 SDNA-1000 Saliva Collection Testing Kit | Bloomberg News/George Frey

Several drug and pharmacy executives joined Trump at a briefing last night, as the president announced a “blueprint” for increasing testing capacity. The executives promised a rapid rollout of more testing in the coming weeks (although their previous promises haven’t always panned out). “Among the companies, Quest Diagnostics plans to increase the number of diagnostic tests it analyzes each day from 50,000 now to 100,000 by the end of May and has reduced its turnaround time to between 24 and 48 hours,” Juliet and Mike DeBonis write. “LabCorp will ramp up from 60,000 diagnostic tests a day and begin offering a take-at-home test to consumers across the country.”

Walgreens said it expects to have 23 drive-through testing locations across 15 states by the end of the week. And CVS chief executive Larry Merlo said his chain of pharmacies plans to expand coronavirus testing to nearly 1,000 locations by the end of May and process as many as 1.5 million tests a month.

“Beginning in May, we will install testing capabilities in up to 1000 CVS pharmacies,” Merlo said at the White House press conference. “We’ll be using our drive-through’s and our parking lots with swab testing.”

Spectrum Solutions COVID-19 SDNA-1000 Saliva Collection Testing Kit

© Spectrum Solutions™ COVID-19 SDNA-1000 Saliva Collection Testing Kit | Bloomberg News/George Frey

Washington Post-Health 202 Testing for COVID-19 Using Saliva

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About the Product

Innovative Engineering SDNA-1000

Open-blister-pack-spectrum-saliva-dna-collection-device

Spectrum Solutions has manufactured over 20 million Saliva Collection devices for distribution worldwide. Spectrum’s technically superior  SDNA-1000 saliva collection device was engineered to lead the saliva collection industry in molecular diagnostics and clinical research applications.

  • First saliva collection device to receive EUA authorization for COVID-19 testing
  • First saliva collection device FDA authorized for at-home sample collection
  • Only painless biosample collection option for COVID-19 testing
  • Engineered to reduce self-collection error
  • Delivers consistent high-quality, high-yield biosamples
  • 100% inactivation of the live virus
  • 100% bacteriostatic
  • Saliva collection system mitigates all risk of infection to those individuals administering the test
  • SDNA-1000 delivers over a 90% reduction in PPE usage compared to current swab collections for COVID-19 testing
  • Single device preserves both DNA and fragile viral RNA transcripts
  • Stabilizes and extends biosample viability over two weeks at room temperature for shipping and transport needs

The inactivation of the virus in the SDNA-1000 saliva collection device creates the most robust and safest biomaterial collection approach for the detection of COVID-19 infection.

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