“The most recent studies on saliva tests have been carried out with adults. This method has hardly been studied in children and adolescents,” explains the specialist. Several experts argue for using this method in the context of local households. Saliva analysis has many advantages for Herman Goossens. In the event of an outbreak of coronavirus in a school setting, for example, it suffices to ask children and adolescents to spit into a pot. The samples are immediately sent to a laboratory so that we can know, the next day, if they are infected or not.
“The swabs to be pushed into the back of the nose are often unpleasant for the patients. Here, it is less radical and they can do it themselves”, defends the professor. The method is also safer: it prevents doctors or nurses who perform the test from approaching the patient.
Virologist Marc Van Ranst also finds the lead interesting because it offers rapid monitoring of the epidemic. He estimates that it could be tested from September.
Previous research in adults has shown that the saliva test does not work well in people who have a low viral load. The method would therefore be especially useful for detecting people who do not present symptoms but whose viral load is medium or high, ideally by systematic campaigns.
The large-scale screening capacities are unfortunately insufficient for this type of prevention, qualifies for his part the virologist of Sciensano Steven Van Gucht. However, it does not exclude this type of test “in very specific circumstances”.