New Rutgers saliva test for COVID-19 gets FDA approval, will be used in Middlesex County starting Wednesday

The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to the Rutgers University-based research company  RUCDR Infinite Biologics for a new saliva test for the coronavirus.

The new saliva collection method, which RUCDR developed in partnership with Spectrum Solutions and Accurate Diagnostic Labs, will allow for broader population screening than the current nose and throat swab methods.

“The impact of this approval is significant,” said Andrew Brooks, chief operating officer of RUCDR. “It means we no longer have to put health care professionals at risk for infection by performing nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal collections. We can preserve precious personal protective equipment for use in patient care instead of testing. We can significantly increase the number of people tested each and every day as self-collection of saliva is more quick and scalable than swab collections. All of this combined will have a tremendous impact on testing in New Jersey and across the United States.”

Brooks said saliva testing will help with the global shortage of swabs for sampling and increase testing of patients, and it will not require health care professionals to be put at risk to collect samples.

“Saliva testing will also be important for people who are in quarantine because they don’t know how long it will be until they are no longer infectious,” Brooks said. “This will allow health care workers to release themselves from quarantine and safely come back to work.”

The test will first be used starting Wednesday at the drive-up COVID-19 testing site at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Edison.

Rutgers University President Robert Barchi called the new saliva test a “herculean effort that is great for the country and the world and by reflection great for our university.”

The FDA’s approval of the new saliva testing approach is the second major announcement in recent days from RUCDR, which launched a genetic testing service for the coronavirus that can test thousands of samples daily. With the new saliva test, that number may increase to tens of thousands of samples a day.