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In brief

Are saliva swabs the silver bullet for screening Covid-19?

Covid saliva swabs
Monaco Government / Manuel Vitali

Here’s all you need to know about the new Covid-19 test in use in Monaco.


Saliva swab tests are the latest trick up Monaco’s sleeve in the fight against coronavirus. Currently, they are carried out alongside PCR and antigen tests to ensure greater screening efficiency.

Saliva-based tests aren’t as reliable as PCR tests, which remain the test of reference

Alexandre Bordero, Director of the Department of Health Affairs

Painless but not fully reliable

After the saliva has been collected, the sample is passed through a centrifuge and, half an hour later, mixed with a special liquid. If the liquid turns orange, the patient is positive. If it turns yellow, it is negative.

Not only are saliva swab tests quick, explains Alexandre Bordero, Director of the Department of Health Affairs, but “they are also less unpleasant than nose swabs, meaning that they can be used for  children, very sensitive people or people with nose problems…” However, saliva samples have not yet replaced PCR tests. At the moment, scientists still need to assess its reliability.