The Food and Drug Administration approved a new type of COVID-19 testing for emergency use Saturday that’s more comfortable for patients and cheaper than a nasal swab. The test is saliva-based, meaning users can spit into a cup and get their results in less than 24 hours. Most labs already have the equipment necessary to complete the testing, which requires fewer chemicals to process than the current methods. Though consumers will likely pay more, researchers at Yale University say the method costs about $4 per sample. The NBA and its players’ association paid for the Yale research, which compared players’ saliva samples to their nasal swabs and found nearly identical results.
Saliva tests are about 90% accurate. Administrators at major colleges are hoping the new method of testing will make it easier to test students and student-athletes each week, key to resuming sports and classes this fall. There is no clear timeline for the tests to come online. Some saliva testing is already being done, though it can cost more than $150 per sample.