ISSN: 0973-7510

E-ISSN: 2581-690X

Research Article | Open Access
Hind Q. Jameel Al-Ani1, Noor N. Al-Hayani2 and Raid M. Al-Ani3
1Anbar Health Directorate, Al-Faluja Healthcare Sector, Al Falojah City, Iraq.
2Department of Microbiology/Virology, College of Medicine, University Of Anbar, Ramadi City, Iraq.
3Department of Surgery/Otolaryngology, College of Medicine, University Of Anbar, Ramadi City, Iraq.
Article Number: 7880 | © The Author(s). 2022
J Pure Appl Microbiol. 2022;16(4):2416-2424.
Received: 04 June 2022 | Accepted: 08 August 2022 | Published online: 28 September 2022
Issue online: December 2022

Saliva samples could be used as a non-invasive method to diagnose COVID-19. We aimed to assess the results of the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) of saliva specimens in the detection of COVID-19. We collected saliva and nasopharyngeal (NP) samples from consecutive COVID-19 suspects in Al-Fallujah Teaching Hospital, Anbar, Iraq from November 29, 2021 to February 15, 2022. The results of the two specimens were compared using RT-PCR. For the positive saliva tests, repetition of the test was undertaken at weekly intervals for four weeks from the time of the presentation. There were 55% men and 60% people ≤ 35 years. The majority of cases presented within 2-5 days (92%) and were of mild severity (89%). A hundred pairs of samples were taken. COVID-19 was diagnosed by NP swab RT-PCR in 56% and 31% of the saliva samples. The saliva samples had 100% sensitivity (95% confidence interval [CI] 60.4% e96.6%), 63.8% specificity (95% CI 96.1% e99.9%), and mild coefficient agreement (kappa coefficient = 0.522). The positive test for the saliva samples remained as such in all examined cases in the first and second weeks after the first test, 31/31 and 30/30, respectively. While half of them were positive in the third week (15/30). All cases became negative in the fourth week (0/15). We recommend not using the saliva swab as an alternative to the NP swab in the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR. However, saliva sample can be used for the follow-up of the COVID-19 subjects, in children, elderly, and handicapped patients.


COVID-19, Saliva RT-PCR, Nasopharyngeal Swab, Oropharyngeal Swab, SARS-CoV-2, Saliva Self-sampling

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© The Author(s) 2022. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License which permits unrestricted use, sharing, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.