No tears, no blood, only spit with Yale’s new Covid-19 test

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The lack of testing capacity has been one of the biggest hurdles to tackling Covid-19, so the FDA granting emergency use authorisation for a new Covid-19 spit test could go a long way to reducing testing bottlenecks. The new SalivaDirect test, developed by the Yale School of Public Health, has a number of cost and convenience benefits over the current standard. Not only is it less painful and invasive than nasopharyngeal testing, which requires users to place swabs deep into the throat and nostrils, but it allows collection in any sterile container, avoiding the need for collection tubes, a piece of hardware that has been in short supply. The test should also help get around another scarcity issue, that of reagents. In an altruistic step Yale is offering the technology for free to other labs to encourage uptake. It is estimated that SalivaDirect’s production costs are $4-5, meaning that it could be sold for $10, versus $100 for current tests. However, it remains to be seen if the commercial labs responsible for large-scale roll-out will echo Yale's generosity and price their versions at an accessible level.

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