Dubai introduces new saliva test to detect COVID-19 in children
Saliva tests for COVID-19 in children aged 3 to 16 have been launched at all Dubai Health Authority (DHA) facilities and at COVID-19 testing centers run by DHA in the emirate of Dubai. This new test was introduced because children find it very uncomfortable to take the nasal swab test and parents find it inconvenient for their children to take the test. The new saliva test, which is based on new research-based evidence, will take away the discomfort and encourage children to get tested.
Research which was led by Mohammad bin Rashid University (MBRU) in conjunction with DHA found that the saliva test had a diagnostic accuracy of over 90%. The research team collected saliva and nasal swabs from 476 children who presented for COVID-19 testing at DHA testing facilities.
The saliva samples were collected in sterile containers, and at the same time, the children provided nasal swab samples taken by trained healthcare professionals to compare with the saliva results. The samples were then tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19 at the DHA virology laboratory.
The results of the study showed that saliva could be used for viral detection with 87.7% sensitivity and 98.5% specificity. The positive and negative predictive values for the saliva test were 92.2% and 97.6% respectively. These results show that saliva is a useful diagnostic sample for screening children for COVID-19.