Saliva-based COVID tests becoming popular among schools

Colleges are getting creative to get students to take COVID-19 tests.

At the University of San Diego, the school is now offering test kits through vending machines on campus. Students just have to swab themselves and turn the results back into the school.

Here at home, at lot more colleges are getting in on those saliva tests.

The saliva-based testing has already started at North Central College in Naperville. Athletes took the test this past weekend.

"Definitely not how I saw my senior year of college going," North Central college basketball player Page Desenberg said.

Desenberg's basketball season has been cut in half because of COVID-19.

"With [the saliva-based testing] we're able to test three times a week. We can get our test results in 24 hours, which is really nice because the last testing we would only do once a week," she said.

North Central has signed on for the saliva test, developed at the University of Illinois.

College dean Dr. Marci Swede says the switch to the test was a no-brainer. It is 97 to 98 percent accurate, and cheaper – only $20 a test compared to $100 for a nasal swab.

Last semester, the school would pay the $100 if insurance did not. Now, the school is paying for all the saliva tests.

The test is still waiting for emergency use authorization from the FDA, but more than 20 schools have already signed up for it.


Dr. Swede says most students will be tested at random once week, while groups like athletes several times a week -- and results come back in 24 hours.

"We will be able to step in more quickly and be able to isolate and quarantine individuals in a way that allowed us to really clamp down on any potential surges that we see," said Dr. Swede.

For faster results, a University of Illinois spokesperson says they are also launching labs to help process tests across the state, including two labs in the Chicago area alone.