Scientists say new test is easier for patients and laboratories
TEMPE, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Scientists at Arizona State University are working on a new saliva-based coronavirus test that could help meet the rising demand for screenings across the state.
ASU's Biodesign Institute is creating the test. It only takes a small amount of saliva, and is less invasive than traditional tests, which involve inserting a swab up a patient's nose.
"The idea behind this test is to make it simple to collect samples from individuals so what we want to do is make it easy for people to give samples and we want to make sure we reach the public, especially the under served population." said Dr. Joseph LaBaer, Director of the Biodesign Institute.
Not only is the test easier on patients, it's also easier on frontline healthcare workers. And, Dr. LaBaer says, it conserves resources.
"We wanted to move away from the swab because it requires medical personnel to collect the sample. It requires a lot of PPE. It can cause coughing and sneezing and so the idea is the entire specimen we are collecting is from the patient. So instead of taking a little brushing from the back of the palate we are taking spit from their mouth and all the sample is their spit." says the doctor.
The test also takes less time for a laboratory to process. ASU says results can be available within a day or two. Right now the Institute can process as many as 2,000 samples a day. It hopes to be able to process as many as 16,000 tests a day in the near future.
ASU is working with the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) to roll out the new tests at facilities across the state. Dr. LaBaer says the process will be surprisingly simple.
"What we are planning to do is have people register online with a web app we've developed. It tells them what time to show up and when they show up they pull up with their car where they will show their code on their phone and they will be handed a tube and a straw. And then you basically spit down the straw into the tube while you're driving on a path and by the end of the path you just hand back the tube."
AZDHS hasn't released details on when and where the new tests will be available. KYMA.com will provide that information as soon as health officials release it.