Study population and setting
Between October 1 and 23, 2020, 476 population-based children (age 3-18 years) were recruited from Dubai Health Authority community-based screening centers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Conditions for testing included contact with confirmed COVID-19 patient, presumptive symptoms, or return to school. Paired saliva and nasopharyngeal (NP) swab samples were taken by a trained healthcare person, and RT-PCR was used for SARS-CoV-2 detection.
Summary of Main Findings
The prevalence of COVID-19 diagnosed by NP swab was 16.7%, and 15.9% by saliva. The sensitivity and specificity of using the saliva sample was 87.7% (95% CI 78.5-93.9) and 98.5% (95% CI 96.8-99.5), respectively. Positive and negative predictive values were 92.2% (95% CI 84.2-96.3) and 97.6% (95%CI 95.7-98.6), respectively. Concordance between NP and saliva was not different by age or gender.
This was a prospective study where a large cohort of population-based, school-aged children, both symptomatic and asymptomatic were recruited. Comparable results were observed between NP and saliva samples.
No further age breakdown was used to determine if saliva testing is useful in younger vs older children, or in those under 3 years old. Likewise, the authors did not report whether NP and saliva concordance were different in asymptomatic vs symptomatic children.
This study was one of the largest to look at saliva and NP sampling for COVID-19 detection in population-based children (3-18 years).
This review was posted on: 21 May 2021