UVA rolls out rapid saliva testing for students, plans to test hundreds randomly

Updated: Sep. 30, 2020 at 8:10 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia kicks off its new COVID-19 screening program called ‘Be SAFE’ this week. Rather than using the nasal swab, it will use saliva testing to rapidly screen students for the virus.

This new saliva testing program will allow hundreds of students to be tested for COVID-19 far more rapidly, getting results back within the day.

The university will randomly select students and notify them by email to report to a screening location. The saliva tests are mandatory for those selected and completely free of charge.

It only takes about three to five minutes to give a sample and results come back within a day. UVA hopes this will identify more silent carriers before they have the chance to spread the virus.

“What this test method does is test asymptomatic populations,” UVA Vice President of Research Melur K. “Ram” Ramasubramanian said. "If they are found to carry the virus, then they can self-quarantine and not spread the virus to the rest of the population so that we can flatten the curve.”

UVA is aiming to screen all students weekly and drive down the turnaround time to just six hours before the end of the semester. The saliva screening is only available to current students who show a valid UVA ID.

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