Saliva test said to detect COVID-19 antibodies

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — You can soon find out whether you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 without having your blood drawn.

A new saliva test is being developed in Federal Way. And it could be the easiest way to tell if you have antibodies to the coronavirus.

Want to know whether you have antibodies to the coronavirus? The people at this research lab said all you have to do is spit.

Inside these vials is something nearly every human produces: saliva. Here at the DiagnosTechs, its team has been perfecting the use of saliva to detect illness in the body since 1989.

Just how good is saliva in determining what’s happening inside our bodies?

“It carries with it many aspects or indications when it comes to biomarkers indicating a specific illness or changes in the physiology of the body,” said Dr. Maroun El Khoury. “Like we do with blood.”

El Khoury — owner and medical director of DiagnosTechs, with his native Lebanon still in his voice — said that, unlike blood, collecting saliva is non-invasive.

“In the case of corona(virus), as I said, we would use about two ML (milliliters), even one ML should show,” he said.

And it wouldn’t require much saliva.

“About two to three times spitting,” El Khoury said.

As easy as it sounds now, the director of research and development said it took months to figure out what reagents to add to the saliva in order to find the coronavirus antibodies.

“It took up a whole team of technicians and research associates, scientists, research scientists coming together and really spending a lot of evenings and weekends working on this,” said Matthew Stoner, Ph.D. “Evenings, not so much. But weekends — for sure.”

All of that hard work apparently paid off. The test is non-invasive, and “it’s 90% sensitive and 90% specific,” said El Khoury.

Right now, the only way to get this test is through your doctor. But DiagnosTechs is working to develop a test that you can order from it directly.