Direct comparison of clinical diagnostic sensitivity of saliva from buccal swabs versus combined oro-/nasopharyngeal swabs in the detection of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.529 Omicron
Background/Purpose: While current guidelines recommend the use of respiratory tract specimens for the direct detection of SARS-CoV-2 infection, saliva has recently been suggested as preferred sample type for the sensitive detection of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.529 (Omicron). By comparing saliva collected using buccal swabs and oro-/ nasopharyngeal swabs from patients hospitalized due to COVID-19, we aimed at identifying potential differences in virus detection sensitivity between these sample types. Methods: We compare the clinical diagnostic sensitivity of paired buccal swabs and combined oro-/nasopha- ryngeal swabs from hospitalized, symptomatic COVID-19 patients collected at median six days after symptom onset by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and antigen test. Results: Of the tested SARS-CoV-2 positive sample pairs, 55.8% were identified as SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BA.1 and 44.2% as Omicron BA.2. Real-time PCR from buccal swabs generated significantly higher quantification cycle (Cq) values compared to those from matched combined oro-/nasopharyngeal swabs and resulted in an increased number of false-negative PCR results. Reduced diagnostic sensitivity of buccal swabs by real-time PCR was observed already at day one after symptom onset. Similarly, antigen test detection rates were reduced in buccal swabs compared to combined oro-/nasopharyngeal swabs. Conclusion: Our results suggest reduced clinical diagnostic sensitivity of saliva collected using buccal swabs when compared to combined oro-/nasopharyngeal swabs in the detection of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron in symptomatic individualsGraphische Zusammenfassung, als Datei angehängt.
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