Int J Oral Biol.  2021 Mar;46(1):1-6. 10.11620/IJOB.2021.46.1.1.

Nucleic acid-based molecular diagnostic testing of SARS-CoV-2 using self-collected saliva specimens

  • 1Department of Oral Health, Yecheon Public Health Center, Yecheon 36822, Republic of Korea
  • 2Department of Oral Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Graduate School, Kyung Hee University, Seoul 02447, Republic of Korea
  • 3Department of KHU-KIST Converging Science and Technology, Graduate School, Kyung Hee University, Seoul 02447, Republic of Korea


Since the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-2019), the infection has spread worldwide due to the highly contagious nature of severe acute syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). To manage SARS-CoV-2, the development of diagnostic assays that can quickly and accurately identify the disease in patients is necessary. Currently, nucleic acid-based testing and serology-based testing are two widely used approaches. Of these, nucleic acid-based testing with quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (RT-qPCR) using nasopharyngeal (NP) and/or oropharyngeal (OP) swabs is considered to be the gold standard. Recently, the use of saliva samples has been considered as an alternative method of sample collection. Compared to the NP and OP swab methods, saliva specimens have several advantages. Saliva specimens are easier to collect. Self-collection of saliva specimens can reduce the risk of infection to healthcare providers and reduce sample collection time and cost. Until recently, the sensitivity and accuracy of the data obtained using saliva specimens for SARS-CoV-2 detection was controversial. However, recent clinical research has found that sensitive and reliable data can be obtained from saliva specimens using RT-qPCR, with approximately 81% to 95% correspondence with the data obtained from NP and OP swabs. These data suggest that self-collected saliva is an alternative option for the diagnosis of COVID-19.


SARS-CoV-2 detection; Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR; Self-collected saliva
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