At-home ‘spit test’ trial to test 14,000 people in UK

A group of 14,000 essential workers and their families will trial a new coronavirus “spit test” in southeast England, reports say, in the hopes of greater efficiency and comfort than the current nasal swab test.

Southampton University staff running the trial will test participants weekly, The Guardian reported. After “spitting in a pot,” tests are sent off or await collection. Results are expected within 48 hours.

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The outlet wrote that saliva testing is “far easier” on people with suspected infection, who would otherwise need to go to a testing center or try to swab their nasal passages or throat at home with testing kits.

The current procedure has been described as uncomfortable and causes some people to gag.

A medic takes a nasal swab from a patient for coronavirus testing. (iStock)

“Saliva testing could potentially make it even easier for people to take coronavirus tests at home, without having to use swabs,” said Matt Hancock, health secretary. “This trial will also help us learn if routine, at-home testing could pick up cases of the virus earlier.

“I am very grateful to everyone involved in the trial who is helping us develop our understanding of the virus, which will benefit not only our but the global response to it.”

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Essential workers, university employees and their families are among the first people to take part. It is believed that this routine testing of thousands of people will help explain what proportion of people are asymptomatic.

Trial partakers have to enroll in a “test-and-trace system,” to reach those they may have been in contact with prior to a positive test for self-isolation.

The Southampton City Council, the University of Southampton and the NHS will lead the pilot, along with a larger network of public services in Hampshire, according to a government statement.