SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Wednesday approved a saliva test for COVID-19 developed by SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, which means the test can now be used nationwide.
The test was developed by Upstate with Quadrant Biosciences, a company located in the Upstate campus. The FDA granted an emergency use authorization, which allows labs nationwide to use the test. The saliva test is different than the nasal swab that has been used for months. In this test, the patient swabs the inside of their mouth to detect traces of COVID-19.
The individual saliva tests have been used by SUNY since the beginning of September to detect the coronavirus on college campuses across the state.
“FDA approval of this game-changing COVID-19 test demonstrates the ingenuity of the State University of New York to solve pressing issues,” SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said in a statement. “With this approval the innovation developed by Upstate Medical and Quadrant Biosciences will be leveraged on a national scale. This quick, noninvasive testing protocol—which has already boosted SUNY’s testing capacity to 120,000 tests per week—will now help communities across the country better pinpoint and contain COVID-19.”
These individual saliva tests are used on SUNY campuses in conjunction with pooled testing, which allows 10-25 saliva samples to be tested at once. Previously, if a pooled sample tests positive, each person in the sample would retested individually. But with the FDA approval, each individual saliva sample in the pool can be quickly tested, meaning more than 15,000 samples can be screened per day in a single lab.
“This is indeed a game-changer,” said SUNY Upstate Medical University Interim President Dr. Mantosh Dewan. “We have seen the benefits of this testing here in New York state as we have used it to test significant numbers of individuals quickly and safely to keep our communities, and in the case of our current testing work, local school districts and college campuses safe.”