The COVID-19 (caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)) epidemic started in Wuhan (Hubei Province, China) in mid-December 2019 and quickly spread across the world as a pandemic. As a key to tracing the disease and to implement strategies aimed at breaking the chain of disease transmission, extensive testing for SARS-CoV-2 was suggested. Although nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal swabs are the most commonly used biological samples for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis, they have a number of limitations related to sample collection and healthcare personnel safety. In this context, saliva is emerging as a promising alternative to nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal swabs for COVID-19 diagnosis and monitoring. Saliva collection, being a non-invasive approach with possibility for self-collection, circumvents to a great extent the limitations associated with the use of nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal swabs. In addition, various salivary biomarkers including the salivary metabolomics offer a high promise to be useful for better understanding of COVID-19 and possibly in the identification of patients with various degrees of severity, including asymptomatic carriers. This review summarises the clinical and scientific basis for the potential use of saliva for COVID-19 diagnosis and disease monitoring. Additionally, we discuss saliva-based biomarkers and their potential clinical and research applications related to COVID-19.
Keywords: diagnostic techniques and procedures; infections; molecular biology; salivary glands; virology.
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