France’s National health authority has approved saliva Covid tests to be used on people without symptoms, opening the way for broader testing of students in schools and universities.
Health Minister Olivier Véran had said that once approved, the tests would be deployed in schools and universities, as they are less invasive than the nasal swabs, so can be more easily used on children.
The Haute autorité de la santé (HAS) published its assessment on Thursday, saying that saliva tests, which it had already approved for people with symptoms, could be used in large-scale testing for targeted populations, like schools, universities or care homes.
Saliva tests can be done in laboratories or with self-testing kits to be returned to a lab or testing centre no later than five hours later.
This means the tests can be conducted without a medical professional present, though samples will still need to be sent to labs for analysis, and results will not be any shorter than nasal swabs.
There are concerns about deploying the tests in schools and the lack of school nurses and doctors to help children, in particular younger ones, who do not necessarily know how to spit, and who will have to have saliva extracted from under the tongue with a dropper.