COVID spit tests could be available as soon as next week

MADISON, Wis. — If you’re like most people who don’t enjoy the standard nose swab COVID-19 test, you may soon be able to avoid it and choose a much easier option instead.

UW Health launched a pilot program this week to test the feasibility and accuracy of COVID spit tests.

“The spit test has a lot of merit. It might be a lot easier for folks and it’s easier for us,” Dr. Jeff Pothof said.

Pothof said this is something UW Health has been working on for the past month and a half.

“We do a validation study,” he said. “You have to test people with your gold standard which for us is our NP (Nasopharyngeal) swab and then you have to compare the results you’re getting with your NP swab to the results you’re getting with your saliva.”

Pothof said the results are proving to be effective so far but still believes the nose swab test will be more accurate overall.

“The NP swab is still the better test because even though the spit is still performing well, the NP swab is still the gold standard,” he said.

Pothof said the pilot program is underway and if all goes well, could be made available to the public as soon as next week.

“You just spit it into a collection container, we screw the top on and you’re done,” Pothof said. “So compared to getting the NP swab, it’s really simple.”

Pothof said the turnaround time for the spit test results should be the same as the swab tests, which is about four to eight hours.