pixel Oeiras Municipality and ITQB NOVA promote a monitoring study to COVID-19 with saliva tests in schools | Universidade NOVA de Lisboa

Oeiras Municipality and ITQB NOVA promote a monitoring study to COVID-19 with saliva tests in schools

Investigadoras Catarina Pimentel e Inês Morais realizam testes à COVID-19 nas escolas

ITQB NOVA and Oeiras Municipality will provide saliva tests to COVID-19 to all pre-school, 1st and 2nd cycle students of Oeiras public schools. The implementation of the saliva tests began on January 13, and will cover up to 10,000 students in the schools of Oeiras by March.

The testing is part of a study led by ITQB NOVA researchers Catarina Pimentel and Mónica Serrano and aims to validate tests for the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in saliva samples and allow the screening of COVID-19 cases in the school community. 

At this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with school resuming, simple and quick screening for SARS-Cov-2 is critical to break chains of transmission. Moreover, this testing method is less intrusive and therefore ideal for testing children.

The saliva test developed by the team of researchers at ITQB NOVA uses the RT-PCR technique and has a specificity of 100% and sensitivity of 92% for medium to high viral loads. They use a different detection than traditional RT-PCR molecular tests, which makes them cheaper. They are applied directly to saliva samples, eliminating the need for extraction of the virus genetic material, with very promising results.

Their speed, sensitivity, ease of collection and low cost make these tests particularly interesting for screening SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The team of ITQB NOVA researchers has been developing and implementing test models for COVID-19 using saliva since the end of 2020, in collaboration with Laboratório de Bromatologia e Defesa Biológica (Unidade Militar Laboratorial de Defesa Biológica e Química), Hospital das Forças Armadas and Oeiras Municipality. These tests are now in the validation phase.


Photo: Researchers Catarina Pimentel and Inês Morais delivering tests at schools