Salivary testing of COVID-19: evaluation of serological testing following positive salivary results

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Caulley, Lisa
Shaw, Julie
Corsten, Martin
Hua, Nadia
Angel, Jonathan B.
Poliquin, Guillaume
Whelan, Jonathan
Antonation, Kym
Johnson-Obaseki, Stephanie
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Abstract Background Salivary detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been proposed as an alternative to nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab testing. Our group previously published a study demonstrating that both testing methods identified SARS-CoV-2 using polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based detection methodology. We therefore conducted a follow-up study using antibody testing to evaluate the accuracy of saliva versus swabs for COVID-19 detection and the durability of antibody response. Methods Venous blood samples were collected from consenting participants and the presence of serum antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 was evaluated on a large, automated immunoassay platform by the Roche anti-SARS-CoV-2 qualitative assay (Roche Diagnostics, Laval Quebec). Individuals with a serum antibody cut-off index (COI) ≥ 1.0 were considered positive. Results In asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients with a previously positive standard swab and/or saliva SARS-CoV-2 PCR-test, 42 demonstrated antibodies with 13 patients positive by swab alone, and 8 patients positive by saliva alone. Conclusions Despite their status as ‘current standard’ for COVID-19 testing, these findings highlight limitations of PCR-based tests.
BMC Infectious Diseases. 2021 May 04;21(1):410