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OSU Hopes for Saliva-Based COVID Test Approval in 2 Weeks

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Health officials believe Oklahoma State University is closing in on approval for a saliva-based COVID-19 test.

It’s modeled on one developed by Rutgers University that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration already granted emergency use authorization to in April. The FDA expanded that authorization for the Rutgers test in May to include specimens collected at home.

Adrienne Rollins with the Oklahoma State Department of Health said OSU's saliva test is less invasive and faster than current tests.

"So, they are working toward shifting their lab to focus on saliva over the traditional PCR swab testing. And so, they’re hoping that Sept. 8, they’ll be able to start accepting those saliva test kits and start processing," Rollins said.

Widely used PCR tests that use nasal or throat swabs are highly accurate.

"But those machines that process those take 15 to 20 minutes to run each individual specimen. And so, it’s hard to do large quantities when we’re looking at that, and we believe the saliva’s going to be a lot different because you can run a lot more at one time per machine," Rollins said.

OSU's test was different enough from Rutgers to require additional validation from the FDA, a process that has not gone as smoothly as officials originally hoped it would.

Officials told the Tulsa World in June OSU's validation got delayed when people with positive nasal swab tests weren’t brought in soon enough for saliva tests, and then labs statewide were inundated with specimens in May when all nursing home residents were being tested.

Earlier this month, the FDA issued emergency use authorization to a saliva test developed by Yale University for the NBA.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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