Salivary testing for SARS-CoV-2 in the pediatric population: a diagnostic accuracy study Journal Articles uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • BACKGROUND: Accurate and timely testing for SARS-CoV-2 in the pediatric population is crucial to control the COVID-19 pandemic; saliva testing has been proposed as a less invasive alternative to nasopharyngeal swabs. We sought to compare the detection of SARS-CoV-2 using saliva versus nasopharyngeal swab in the pediatric population, and to determine the optimum time of testing for SARS-CoV-2 using saliva. METHODS: We conducted a longitudinal diagnostic study in Ottawa, Canada, from Jan. 19 to Mar. 26, 2021. Children aged 3-17 years were eligible if they exhibited symptoms of COVID-19, had been identified as a high-risk or close contact to someone confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2 or had travelled outside Canada in the previous 14 days. Participants provided both nasopharyngeal swab and saliva samples. Saliva was collected using a self-collection kit (DNA Genotek, OM-505) or a sponge-based kit (DNA Genotek, ORE-100) if they could not provide a saliva sample into a tube. RESULTS: Among 1580 paired nasopharyngeal and saliva tests, 60 paired samples were positive for SARS-CoV-2. Forty-four (73.3%) were concordant-positive results and 16 (26.6%) were discordant, among which 8 were positive only on nasopharyngeal swab and 8 were positive only on saliva testing. The sensitivity of saliva was 84.6% (95% confidence interval 71.9%-93.1%). INTERPRETATION: Salivary testing for SARS-CoV-2 in the pediatric population is less invasive and shows similar detection of SARS-CoV-2 to nasopharyngeal swabs. It may therefore provide a feasible alternative for diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection in children.


  • Hua, Nadia
  • Corsten, Martin
  • Bello, Alexander
  • Bhatt, Maala
  • Milwid, Rachael
  • Champredon, David
  • Turgeon, Patricia
  • Zemek, Roger
  • Dawson, Lauren
  • Mitsakakis, Nicholas
  • Webster, Richard
  • Caulley, Lisa
  • Angel, Jonathan B
  • Bastien, Nathalie
  • Poliquin, Guillaume
  • Johnson-Obaseki, Stephanie

publication date

  • October 2022