France rolls out saliva tests to detect Covid-19 in schools, universities

Photo: EPA Health Minister Olivier Veran

In good news for those who don't particularly enjoy having a swab shoved deep into one nostril, the French health authority has given the green light for the rollout of saliva tests for Covid-19, The Local France reported. The test is considered slightly less accurate than the nasal swab, but it is easier and more pleasant to use, and will be used to ramp up mass testing in schools and universities.

The saliva test was on Thursday given the green light for use from France's medical regulator Haut Autorité de Santé, which recommended it for use in asymptomatic people.

The test involves spitting out a small amount of saliva, which is then analysed in a laboratory. Unlike the nasal-swab antigen tests, the saliva test does not give on-the-spot results but has to be sent to a laboratory to be analysed.

Mass testing of pupils and staff has been promoted by the French government as a way of keeping schools open but the virus under control, but many pupils found the nasal swab tests uncomfortable or distressing, so the new saliva test will be rolled out first in schools.

It will then be extended to universities, which are currently running around half of classes with in-person teaching.

"We are going to multiply collective screening operations, notably in schools (...), but also in universities," Health Minister Olivier Veran said, adding that the saliva test was "more comfortable" for children.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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