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Salivary PCR is one of the methods for diagnosing COVID-19 with saliva samples. This PCR test is judged to be more comfortable for the patient than the PCR swab. However, how does salivary PCR work and how effective is it? Find out the answer in this article
The PCR test is considered the most accurate for diagnosing COVID-19 disease. This test uses a sample of mucus taken from the nasopharynx, which is the part between the nose and throat, or from the oropharynx, which is the back of the throat. Sampling was done by swab using dacron fiber rods.
Despite having a high level of accuracy, the swab process performed during mucus sampling often makes many people complain of discomfort. Therefore, an alternative has emerged in the form of a salivary PCR test which is considered more convenient and easier to perform.
Knowing the Advantages and How Saliva PCR Works
The PCR test with saliva samples has been developed since 2020 and has been tested by several countries, such as the United States, Germany, Japan, and South Korea.
The use of saliva samples in PCR tests has the main objective of accelerating the tracing process of COVID-19 cases and making the sampling process more comfortable, especially for children.
Not only that, the process of taking saliva samples (saliva) which is more practical and simpler than PCR swabs is expected to ease the work of he alth workers and prevent infection to he alth workers.
The following is a saliva PCR sampling method:
- The medical staff will instruct you to clear your throat by removing phlegm 3 times.
- You will be asked to collect 0-5–1 mL of saliva (about 1 teaspoon) into a dry, sterile empty tube.
- You must close the tube immediately after the saliva sample has collected.
- Medical staff will mix the saliva sample with VTM (viral transport medium), which is a liquid that serves to prevent the sample from being contaminated by bacteria.
After the collection process is complete, the saliva sample will be taken to the laboratory to be detected whether there is Corona virus genetic material in it.
In order for the results to be more accurate, there are several things that need to be avoided at least 30–60 minutes before carrying out a COVID-19 test with saliva PCR, namely:
- Smoking, both regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes
- Consumption of chewing gum
In addition, the salivary PCR test will also be more accurate if it is carried out in the first week since the appearance of symptoms and in the morning when the mouth has not been contaminated with food or drink residue.
Effectiveness of Saliva PCR in Diagnosing COVID-19
Saliva PCR is known to be quite effective in detecting the Corona virus in COVID-19 patients, both adults and children. This is evidenced by several studies comparing the sensitivity of salivary PCR with PCR swab.
A study showed that salivary PCR has a sensitivity of up to 86 percent, not much different from the nasopharyngeal-oropharyngeal swab PCR which has a sensitivity of 92 percent.
In fact, there is a study proving that the sensitivity of salivary PCR can reach 92 percent in adult patients and 84.5 percent in pediatric patients.
Even though it has been proven to be able to diagnose COVID-19, salivary PCR still has some drawbacks, such as the risk of saliva samples being contaminated with bacteria in the oral cavity and false negative results due to the inaccurate sampling process.
Therefore, further research and development to ensure the effectiveness of salivary PCR in diagnosing COVID-19 is still ongoing.
In Indonesia itself, salivary PCR has not been used as a tool for testing COVID-19. However, various new breakthroughs, such as PCR mouthwash and the RT LAMP saliva test, continue to be developed to speed up the tracing process and break the chain of transmission of the Corona virus.
If you feel symptoms of COVID-19, there are currently three types of tests that you can choose from, namely PCR swab, rapid antigen test, and rapid antibody test. Rapid tests can give faster results, but PCR swabs have a higher accuracy rate and are the main test for diagnosing COVID-19.
If the COVID-19 test is positive, you are required to self-isolate and apply he alth protocols, such as maintaining physical distance from other people, wearing a double mask, and washing your hands regularly.
You can also consult a doctor to get information about handling COVID-19 that you can do during self-isolation at home or use the direct chat feature with a doctor on the ALODOKTER application.