Dubai approves saliva-based COVID-19 testing for children

Method eliminates the inconvenience of a nasal swab collection, which can be unsettling for children

  
Doctor’s hands in protection gloves putting COVID-19 test swab into kid’s mouth in hospital. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Doctor’s hands in protection gloves putting COVID-19 test swab into kid’s mouth in hospital. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) facilities and screening centres have adopted saliva-based Covid-19 testing for children aged 3 to 16 years.

The “research-driven and evidence-based move” comes after a joint study by the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU) and DHA highlighted the diagnostic accuracy of the saliva-based test in children.

“The move will ensure a more comfortable method of Covid-19 testing for children and eliminate the inconvenience of a nasal swab collection, which can be unsettling for children,” the DHA said.

The research team took both saliva and nasal swabs from 476 children who went for Covid-10 screening to DHA facilities. The samples were then tested for detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus.

The study found that saliva could be used for viral detection with 87.7 per cent sensitivity and 98.5 per cent specificity. The positive and negative predictive values for saliva tests were 92.2 per cent and 97.6 per cent, respectively. “These results show that saliva is a useful diagnostic specimen for Covid-19 screening in children,” the DHA added.

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