According to Sheba experts, a revolutionary rapid saliva test for COVID-19 can provide results in less than a second. Medical professionals report that it’s easier to use than the PCR swabs currently in use to check for the novel coronavirus. The saliva test was developed by the Israeli firm Newsight Imaging.
How does it work? Patients rinse their mouth with a saline wash and spit into a vial. Then, a small spectral device is used to shine light on the specimen and analyze the reaction. With machine learning, the accuracy of the testing increases over time.
“So far we have very promising results with this new method, which will be much more convenient and much cheaper,” said Eli Schwartz of the Center for Geographic Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba, who is leading the trial.
In the initial clinical trial that involved hundreds of patients, the cutting-edge artificial intelligence-based device demonstrated a 95% success rate for detecting evidence of the virus in the body.
While more data and comparisons with existing testing methods is still necessary, the results of the rapid saliva test are encouraging. However, “It will be a game changer only if we see validation of this technology against the current technology,” said Amos Panet, an expert on molecular virology at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
Panet also explained that the quantity of the virus present in saliva increases as patients get sicker. Therefore, the major challenge is to identify the virus in patients who are borderline.
Newsight Imaging is currently in the process of obtaining regulatory approval. The test is inexpensive, with each one costing less than 25 cents and expectations that the device will eventually cost less than $200. Sheba Medical Center has partnered with Newsight to bring the testing system to market.