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US approves at home saliva-based coronavirus test

U.S. health regulators approved the first saliva-based coronavirus test that allows people to collect their own sample at home.

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U.S. health regulators approved the first saliva-based coronavirus test that allows people to collect their own sample at home.

The new at-home option is expected to expand use of the test developed by Rutgers University, which the Food and Drug Administration first authorized last month.

With the new saliva-based test, patients are given a plastic tube into which they spit several times. They then hand the tube back to the health care worker for laboratory processing.

“This prevents health care professionals from having to actually be in the face of somebody that is symptomatic,” said Andrew Brooks, who directs the Rutgers lab that developed the test.

The test will be available through a New Jersey network of hospitals and testing sites affiliated with Rutgers. Initially, the government limited the test to health care facilities and testing sites with professional supervision.

“Authorizing additional diagnostic tests with the option of at-home sample collection will continue to increase patient access to testing for COVID-19," said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn. “We will continue to work around the clock to support the development of accurate and reliable tests, as we have done throughout this pandemic."

Wide-scale testing is considered essential to containing the spread of COVID-19 and safely reopening businesses and schools. But many states are still struggling to reach the testing levels recommended by health experts.