Why Japanese researchers say there’s “no reason” to keep doing painful COVID nasal swab tests

Tokyo — Researchers in Japan announced “game changing” research this week that found simple saliva tests for COVID-19 are just as reliable as the widely used, but more complicated and uncomfortable, swab tests. The study involved testing almost 2,000 people who were showing no symptoms of the coronavirus using both saliva and the familiar nasal swab. 

The results have already upended conventional wisdom about mass screening in Japan.

“Now it’s clear by our data that sensitivity and specificity are the same” for saliva and swab tests, research team leader Takanori Teshima of Hokkaido University told CBS News. Given the importance public health experts put on mass-screening for asymptomatic carriers of the virus, Teshima said the strong evidence that simple, non-invasive saliva tests are just as effective as the far more common “PCR” tests is “game changing.”


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