Differences Between Saliva COVID-19 Tests, Nasal Swab COVID-19 Tests

April 5, 2021

Ted Karkus, CEO of ProPhase Labs, discusses the differences between saliva COVID-19 tests and nasal swab COVID-19 tests and their different uses in clinical practice.

Pharmacy Times® interviewed Ted Karkus, CEO of ProPhase Labs, on the differences between saliva COVID-19 tests and nasal swab COVID-19 tests and their different applications in clinical practice. ProPhase Labs recently began investigating aspects of saliva testing for COVID-19 and the variants of the virus.

During the discussion, Karkus addresses whether any of the saliva COVID-19 tests that have received emergency use authorizations from the FDA have been able to detect the COVID-19 variants, and what settings specifically benefit from saliva tests versus nasal swab tests.

Karkus explained that in professional environments, even if staff are vaccinated against COVID-19, testing will remain important since the potential to spread the disease may still be possible following vaccination.

“While vaccinations are growing both in popularity and in distribution, that doesn't mean don't wear a mask, and it doesn't mean don't get tested,” Karkus said. “If you're 75 or 80 years old and you're sitting in a room with somebody and you only get to ask one question, do you want to ask the question are you vaccinated or do you have COVID-19? It's more important to know that you don't have COVID-19.”

The saliva test is also highly effective for providing people with the opportunity to take a COVID-19 test at home, which allows tests to be more broadly accessible as an OTC product at pharmacies.

“Saliva is so easy. You just spit in a tube, you seal it, and you ship it off. So, at the end of the day, at-home testing is the wave of the future. The FDA is starting to approve various tests for at-home testing, and saliva is definitely the way to go.”

Karkus also discussed how the saliva COVID-19 tests may be used going forward beyond 2021, whether COVID-19 tests will continue to have a role in health care after much of the global population has been vaccinated, and what the value of the pharmacist is in conducting COVID-19 tests in communities.