TAYLOR COUNTY—For the first time since March, when the COVID-19 virus brought a halt to academics and athletics, some potentially good news has been making its rounds in the past couple of days.
Saturday’s news of a COVID-19 saliva test, which has been developed by the Yale School of Public Health, could be a significant development for our daily lives.
This past weekend, the SalivaDirect test that was originally funded by the NBA and the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
The fact that the test is non-invasive and cheap (roughly five times less than the cost of the current test being administered), makes this particular one much more promising.
That means that just about anyone could test their athletes on a much more frequent basis and get the results back that same day instead of having to wait two or three days.
The NCAA’s chief medical officer, Brian Hainline, has stated that the current U.S. testing system does not allow for sports to continue safely in its current setup, although the new saliva-based test could.
West Virginia University Athletic Director Shane Lyons, who is also chair of the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee, called the new saliva test a potential “game changer” for college sports.
“The more ability we have to test and the turnaround process of that being quicker, it will help us all,” Lyons told Dan Zangrilli Sunday’s on Pittsburgh’s 93.7 “The Fan.” “I’m sure more availability of tests can weigh on people’s decisions (to proceed with fall sports).”
“Right now, the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) testing is a minimum of 48 hours getting that back, so you test someone on Sunday, and you are not going to get it back until Tuesday afternoon,” Lyons added. “There are several days in there. That’s a $100 test compared to what I’m hearing on the saliva test. The supplies cost only $4 and you add some labor and different things and they’re saying the tests would be $15 to $20. Well now, schools have more ability to test.”
He continued by saying, “a lot of the questions out there when schools were canceling fall sports and moving to spring, they were citing the health and safety of the student athlete, and they were correct in saying that. But that’s because they couldn’t afford testing and didn’t have the availability of testing. Now, with potentially more availability at a cheaper cost, maybe more schools would have the ability to stay in the game in the fall.”
“They didn’t know this was coming so they had to make that choice, but if this is really coming to fruition and we can get our hands on it you could almost test every day so that would help us manage the spread of the virus and it reduces some of the contact tracing issues for those who would happen to test positive.”.
According to Lyons, WVU has already begun exploring ways to acquire the new test.