NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There has been a potential breakthrough that could finally make fast, widespread COVID-19 testing possible.

In his latest Max Minute report, CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez has more on a saliva test for the coronavirus that’s been given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.

Public health experts have long said that the key to containing the coronavirus pandemic is fast, affordable, widespread testing. But the tests have been expensive and beset by shortages of test chemicals and nasal swabs, leading to overwhelmed labs and long turnaround times.

However, that may now be changing with a simple saliva test.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Clearly, most people would rather spit into a small plastic vial than have a deep nasal swab for a COVID test. The swab also requires lots of protection for the healthcare worker doing the swab.

An FDA emergency use authorization clears the way for a saliva test that avoids nearly all the drawbacks of the present testing systems.

The method, called “Saliva Direct,” checks for the virus’ genetics and has been shown to be as accurate as nasal swab tests. It’s being further validated in the so-called NBA bubble.

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In addition to being simpler, the new test avoids some of the previous test issues, according to Dr. Anne Wyllie, as associate research scientist at Yale’s School of Public Health.

“Once the samples are in the lab, we can turn out results in about two to three hours. So, but this is not just two to three hours for one sample. What we’re doing at the moment, two to three hours is for up to 92 samples. So realistically, we think that this can give test results on the same day in most situations,” Wyllie said.

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Also important, the chemicals and devices needed for the test are available from multiple sources, avoiding supply chain disruptions. And the chemicals cost less than $4, so the researchers hope the final test will stay under $10-$15.

The Yale researchers say this test can be simply implemented by labs all over the country and they’ll start rolling it out to them within the next month or so.

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