Ten million daily COVID-19 tests in the UK can be achieved using saliva tests, says GlobalData

Following the UK announcement to spend £100bn on expanding COVID-19 testing to ten million a day;

Dara Lo, Medical Device Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view:

“Using a saliva test to diagnose COVID-19 is one of the ways the UK might achieve its target ten million daily testing capacity. It is not yet clear who the suppliers of these tests will be – the saliva test used in the Southhampton pilot programme was provided by British manufacturer Optigene, and the three-week trial at London’s Heathrow Airport used British startup iAbra’s 20-second saliva test – but saliva-based testing has come forward as an attractive, low-cost alternative.

“An ongoing lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing supplies has driven innovation for alternative forms of testing to quickly and accurately diagnose cases of COVID-19. While saliva can be a crude sample for diagnosing COVID-19 using what has come to be the gold-standard of COVID-19 testing, reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR, saliva tests pair well with a cheaper and faster PCR alternative known as loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP).

“Saliva tests also alleviate the bottleneck of reagents and supplies required for standard RT-PCR testing, such as nose swabs. A saliva test can also be done at home, and so eliminates the need for the associated cost and risk of going for in-person testing, which requires professionals and PPE. By diversifying the types of COVID-19 diagnostic tests, the supply chain becomes diversified, as well, alleviating pressures that caused shortages of supplies in mid-March.”

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