Sensitivity of Nasopharyngeal Swabs and Saliva for the Detection of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)

Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Jun 25;ciaa848. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa848. Online ahead of print.


We enrolled 91 consecutive in-patients with COVID-19 at six hospitals in Toronto, Canada, and tested one nasopharyngeal swab/saliva sample pair from each patient using real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction for SARS-CoV-2. Sensitivity was 89% for nasopharyngeal swabs and 72% for saliva (p=0.02); difference in sensitivity was greatest for sample pairs collected later in illness.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; nasopharyngeal swab; saliva.