Singapore approves COVID-19 test using saliva from inside throat

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Singapore has approved Advanced MedTech Holdings' COVID-19 kit for use in testing saliva from deep within the throat, the company said, as the country looks to ramp up testing to help re-open its borders.

The test is the first of its type to receive approval from Singapore's Health Sciences Authority, Advanced MedTech, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore state investor Temasek, said in a statement on Thursday.

Singapore has made testing a pillar of its strategy to gradually re-open its borders that have been largely shut for most of 2020. The island-state is hosting the World Economic Forum in May next year and has said safety protocols will include on-arrival tests, as well as pre-event and periodic antigen testing.

Patients will need to draw out saliva from deep within their throat and spit into a specimen bottle for the test, Advanced MedTech said.

This would make specimen collection much less invasive and more comfortable for patients than the current method of collection through swabs inserted into the back of the nose or throat, it said.

"No patient wants to have a swab poked up their nose or the back of their throat. Having a fast, painless, and accurate COVID-19 test a game changer for Singapore as we reopen our borders," said Abel Ang, group chief executive of Advanced MedTech.

Hong Kong and Taiwan are among the other places in the world that have been using deep-throat saliva samples to test for the coronavirus.

The new Singapore tests, which will be used in Changi Airport in 2021, were able to accurately identify all the known positive cases in clinical studies, the company said.

It said the test should speed up testing capabilities and mean a four-fold increase in the output of samples compared with conventional RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) tests.

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