Yale Researchers

NBA Collaborates With Yale Researchers for Saliva Test for COVID-19

The Yale Researchers, National Basketball Players Association, and the NBA have joined hands to study a potential test method for COVID-19. They have collaborated to study the effectiveness of the saliva-based method that can determine whether a person is infected by the novel coronavirus. The method can turn out to be one of the quickest ways of detection.

Yale University made an official announcement about this collaboration on June 22, 2020. The researchers who belong to the Yale School of Public Health have developed the testing method and named it as SalivaDirect. Although the test is not a mandatory one, it will help coaches, players, and every other staff of NBA who are now volunteers for the study. There is also buy-in from the NBPA. In this context, Joe Rogowski, Chief Medical Officer of NBPA says that all the players seem to be excited to be a part of this project.

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A valuable contribution to public health

The CMO says that there are two major benefits of launching this method of testing. Firstly, it will give the players an alternative testing method within the campus of the NBA in Orlando. Besides, such an idea will help in leveraging the regular testing scenes for the players. Therefore, they can contribute to public health in a better way. It is a great way to join hands to fight against the virus. The NBA considered the SalivaDirect test as a part of the detailed return-to-play document. According to the researchers of Yale University, saliva is one of the most sensitive and reliable ways to detect the novel coronavirus infection. However, research is still on regarding the effectiveness of a saliva testing in the case of an asymptomatic person.

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In the return-to-play document, the NBA has mentioned that Yale researchers will conduct optimization, sensitivity, and robustness experiments to make sure that saliva reaches its surveillance potential. They will compare the results of de-identified saliva testing conducted via swabs. The new SalivaDirect is a non-invasive testing method that has arrived as an alternative to the nasopharyngeal swabbing method. The latter is the traditional method of testing for the novel coronavirus.

Benefits of the new testing method

The new test method proposed by Yale University requires only a tiny saliva sample. Besides, experts suggest that this one is going to be a cheaper and safer testing method. It will also require less training to be conducted which makes it more convenient. According to Nathan Grubaugh, in his meeting with the NBA, they have understood that the latter is not only after a less invasive method of testing. Instead what they want is to contribute to society in some way, especially targeting the low-income group. So, he was immediately satisfied with the collaboration because their interests were most common.

The supervisors of the project include Grubaugh, Harlan Krumholz, Albert Ko, and Anne Wyllie. Further, the researchers will get a scope of comparing results constantly because the testing will be conducted on volunteer players daily. It will also help to ensure the submission of widespread approval to the FDA. The research team is trying to get approval on this sooner so that the method of SalivaDirect can be officially launched by the middle of July 2020.

Conduction of tests beforehand

Before submitting the proposition, researchers from Yale had already made comparisons between nasopharyngeal and SalivaDirect samples. 98 healthcare workers and 44 inpatients were volunteers for the test. All of them are from the New Heaven Hospital of Yale. According to the test reports, saliva samples obtained from the inside of a person’s mouth were more effective. It was having more detection sensitivity and were also more consistent throughout the entire process.

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It worked more efficiently during the infection in comparison to the nasopharyngeal method. Another derivation from the study says that a self-sample collection showed a more consistent result than otherwise. According to Dr. John DiFiori, Director of Sports Medicine in the NBA, they are hopeful. It means that the contribution from their side will make sense. It will help researches to make some progress in the surge of minimally invasive and broadly accessible testing.

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