Aug 17, 2020
Saliva-Based COVID-19 Test Good Sign for Sports

Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency authorization for the public-use of a saliva-based COVID-19 test that is expected to increase available, turnaround time, and affordability.

According to a report from Yahoo! Sports, the test — referred to as SalivaDirect — was developed by Yale University and jointly funded by the NBA and the NBA Players Association.

Photo: The National Guard / Creative Commons

Though retail prices have yet to be released, developers revealed that testing could be done for as cheap as $4, according to the report.

SalivaDirect could potentially have a huge impact in the sports world — both amateur and professional sports. Having a cheap, fast-acting test makes it easier for teams, administrations, and programs to administer on a regular basis, and potentially allow an option for fans to be in attendance safely. In a prior report from Yahoo! Sports, multiple NFL general managers were told by medical officials in June that the adoption of this type of affordable saliva test would be a “game-changer” in efforts to holding a regular NFL season.

While the peer-review process for the saliva test has yet to take place, data produced by Yale showed nearly identical results between groups of NBA players and staffers who were given both a nasal swab test and saliva test, according to the report.

Test results have been suggested as not perfect, but 90 percent effective. But with the combination of an affordable and fast test, the ability to frequently test patients can potentially account for that gap.

The announcement by the FDA comes days after the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences announced the cancelation of their fall sports seasons, including football. Though there was no one single factor that tipped the balance by college administrators in forgoing the fall, myocarditis was brought up in addition to the inability to test quickly in a cost-effective manner.

» ALSO SEE: Myocarditis a Concern for Big Ten, Pac-12 Administrators

Now, with the possibility of SalivaDirect, the remaining Power 5 conferences — The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the Big-12, and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) — are hoping to have some semblance of a fall sports college season this year.

“It will be most helpful,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey told Yahoo Sports, although he wasn’t guaranteeing anything. “It’s important news, but I think we have to understand truly what it means and the accuracy and accessibility that we all know are central to a successful testing environment.”

To read the full report from Yahoo! Sports on SalivaDirect and its potential impact on sports, click here

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