Coronavirus: saliva tests in schools given the green light

Published by Rizhlaine F. · Published on 13 February 2021 at 11h32 · Updated on 13 February 2021 at 13h30
The French National Authority for Health has found saliva RT-PCR test sensitivity satisfactory. These less invasive tests could be deployed in France by the end of the winter break in order to test pupils in schools more easily.

Saliva tests used in France after the Winter break? This is what expects Olivier Véran. During the press briefing held on February 4, 2021, the Health Minister has said the executive wishes to deploy the use of this testing method in schools in order to make it easier to children.

"As soon as winter break ends, we hope to be able to test thousands with saliva testsVéran said, highlighting the interest of using this less intrusive method in the youngest. This Thursday February 11, 2021, the Haute Autorité de Santé has handed a favorable report allowing the use of saliva tests in schools, as expected. 

For the record, saliva tests to dected coronavirus have been allowed since September 18, 2020 but still not used in France. The French National Authority for Health (HAS) issued a public release stating that only people showing symptoms could be tested that way. The goal if implementing these saliva tests is to "make samples easier, reducing contamination risks for the healthcare staff and be less unpleasant for patients" the HAS explains in a post following the press release. A method said to make coronavirus test easier in "symptomatic people for whom nose swab is complicated, even impossible".

In September, the HAS was not recommending this virus dectecting screen test for people not showing symptoms for who "we would miss over 75%" of the infections, HAS college president Dominique Le Guludec explains in a digital press conference. The PCR remains the test the most used to detect the virus.

The evolution has changed since then. On January 22, 2021, HAS committee has delivered a positive report as for the efficacy of detecting Covid-19 from a saliva sample. According to the meta-assessment led by the organization, saliva tests are 85% sensitive against 90% for nose swabs.

In Le Monde, Lisa Alter is enthusiast. "By stoppingthe invasive and painful - for some people - constraint, we shall be able to lead mass testing campaigns with better accepted iterative swabs" the head of HAS public medical, economical and health assessment hopes.

The report from the HAS says that a Covid-19 positive test is trustworthy, whether this test demands a nose swab or saliva. The loss of sensitivity between saliva tests and nose swabs is satisfactory, even in asymptomatic patients.

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