Soon you will be able to collect your saliva yourself to test whether or not you are positive for Covid … The University of Liège has developed a new saliva screening kit. The university expects to start production in mid-August. Objective: around 2 and a half million tests per month.
It is a private Liège company, Diagenode, specializing in diagnostic kits, which is responsible for its marketing. But the design and the patent remain academic.
These new PCR tests are faster and simpler than current samples taken from the throat and sometimes painful samples from the nostrils. Universities and companies have already shown interest.
The patient himself will kill the virus
The principle is simple: a plastic tube in which you attach a small funnel that will collect the saliva. The person can therefore take the sample themselves without resorting to medical personnel. Advantage: we will be able to test a lot more people. But that’s not the only advantage.
Fabrice Bureau is vice-rector for research at ULiège: “The kit will allow the person to perform the first step in the analysis that is usually done in the laboratory: inactivation of the virus, therefore killing the virus in the tube.”
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Concretely, by closing the cap, you release a product that kills the virus. “So we won’t need high security labs to open the tubes. We can open them directly in conventional labs for analysis afterwards.”
Only then remains in the laboratory to carry out the last two stages of analysis after inactivation of the virus: the extract and amplification of the genetic material of the virus, the famous PCR.
Less efficient but faster and easier
If this saliva test saves time and personnel in terms of analyzes, it is however less effective. “The sensitivity in the nose and in the throat is around 90% while the sensitivity of saliva is around 80%. But the important thing is to analyze as many people as possible and above all, detect among people, those who are highly contaminating and those who contaminate have the virus in their saliva. “
The University of Liège already intends to use these tests from the start of the school year to screen its 25,000 students and 5,000 members of staff.