The diagnostic accuracy of saliva testing for SARS-CoV-2: A systematic review and meta-analysis
MetadataShow full item record
Introduction: Early detection of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is paramount for controlling the progression and spread of the disease. Currently, nasopharyngeal swabbing (NPS) is the standard method for collecting specimens. Saliva was recently proposed as an easy and safe option with many authorities adopting the methodology despite the limited evidence of efficacy. Objectives: The aim of this review was to systematically evaluate the current literature on the use of saliva test for detecting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and carry out a meta-analysis to determine its diagnostic accuracy. Materials and methods: Prospective studies were searched for in electronic databases, complemented by hand-searching relevant journals. The risk of bias and applicability were assessed using the revised Quality Assessment of Studies of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS-2) tool. Meta-analyses and meta-regression modeling were performed to calculate the diagnostic accuracy and examine sources of heterogeneity. Results: A total of 16 studies were included with 2928 paired samples. The overall meta-analysis showed a high sensitivity and specificity for saliva test at 0.88 (95% CI 0.82–0.92) and 0.92 (95% CI 0.75–0.98), respectively. The diagnostic odds ratio was calculated at 87 (95% CI 19–395) and area under the curve was calculated as 0.92 (95% CI 0.90–0.94) suggesting very good performance of the saliva tests in detecting SARS-CoV-2. Conclusion: Saliva testing has a very good discriminative and diagnostic ability to detect of SARS-CoV-2. Additional large and well-designed prospective studies are needed to further validate the diagnostic accuracy and determine a safe sample collection method prior to its recommendation for mass application.