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    Identifying SARS-CoV-2 infections through aggressive diagnostic testing remains critical to tracking and curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Collection of nasopharyngeal swabs (NPS), the preferred sample type for SARS-CoV-2 detection, has become difficult due to the dramatic increase in testing and consequent supply strain. Therefore, alternative specimen types have been investigated that provide similar detection sensitivity with reduced health care exposure and the potential for self-collection. In this study, the detection sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 in nasal swabs (NS) and saliva was compared to that of NPS using matched specimens from two outpatient cohorts in New York State (total n = 463). The first cohort showed only a 5.4% positivity, but the second cohort (n = 227) had a positivity rate of 41%, with sensitivity in NPS, NS, and saliva of 97.9%, 87.1%, and 87.1%, respectively. Whether the reduced sensitivity of NS or saliva is acceptable must be assessed in the settings where they are used. However, we sought to improve on it by validating a method to mix the two sample types, as the combination of nasal swab and saliva resulted in 94.6% SARS-CoV-2 detection sensitivity. Spiking experiments showed that combining them did not adversely affect the detection sensitivity in either. Virus stability in saliva was also investigated, with and without the addition of commercially available stabilizing solutions. The virus was stable in saliva at both 4°C and room temperature for up to 7 days. The addition of stabilizing solutions did not enhance stability and, in some situations, reduced detectable virus levels. Copyright © 2021 American Society for Microbiology.


    Sara B Griesemer, Greta Van Slyke, Dylan Ehrbar, Klemen Strle, Tugba Yildirim, Dominick A Centurioni, Anne C Walsh, Andrew K Chang, Michael J Waxman, Kirsten St George. Evaluation of Specimen Types and Saliva Stabilization Solutions for SARS-CoV-2 Testing. Journal of clinical microbiology. 2021 Apr 20;59(5)

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    PMID: 33674284

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