Kiwi leading the way on developing Covid-19 saliva testing

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 15 Feb 2021, 2:41PM
Empty vial is handed over by staff member at the Rako Science testing centre in Auckland Airport's international terminal. Photo / Auckland Airport
Empty vial is handed over by staff member at the Rako Science testing centre in Auckland Airport's international terminal. Photo / Auckland Airport

Kiwi leading the way on developing Covid-19 saliva testing

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 15 Feb 2021, 2:41PM

Researchers are looking into how to expand Covid-19 detection - with a Kiwi at the forefront of developing more accessible technology. 

Air New Zealand employees undertaking regular surveillance testing are participating in a Institute of Environmental Science and Research study, that will test saliva for the virus.

The study will include the SalivaDirect Covid-19 testing technology developed by Nathan Grubaugh and New Zealander Anne Wyllie at Yale University in the US.

While the Ministry of Health say at this stage there is still no indication that saliva PCR testing could replace the mandatory nasopharyngeal testing, health experts say it's only a matter of time.

The ACT Party has come out this morning calling for daily mandatory saliva tests for border and MIQ Staff.  So just how is saliva testing progressing?

Dr Wyllie told Kerre McIvor that she wanted to make a test as effective as possible, and they worked off developing the same PCR technology as the nasal swabs but make it more affordable. 

"We started playing with this back in April. There's still such a dire need here in the US for testing, so anything we could do to increase access to testing." 

She says they validated their method with the National Basketball Association and their bubble.

LISTEN ABOVE