How saliva screening samples are processed

Estimated reading time: 1 min

Note: Information in the saliva screening consent and registration process was inadvertently outdated regarding the “pooling” of samples and how results are communicated. We apologize for this error. 

The laboratory that processes saliva samples uses the following steps to identify individuals who may have the virus that causes COVID-19. 

  • The laboratory initially takes a portion of your individual saliva sample and groups it together with portions of individual saliva samples from a small number of people to look for the presence of the virus that causes COVID-19. 
  • If there is indication of the virus in the first analysis of the small group of samples, the laboratory then runs more processes to narrow down the saliva sample with presence of the virus to the specific, individual sample. They then run another, separate analysis on the remaining portion of the individual saliva sample to confirm that they have identified the single individual with the presence of the virus.
  • If you are notified that your saliva sample indicates that you may have the virus that causes COVID-19, that communication is based only on your individual saliva sample
  • Any time an individual is instructed to take additional action  (nasal swab confirmatory test, quarantine, etc.), that instruction is because their individual saliva indicates the presence of the virus.  You will not receive notification based on the status of anyone else’s sample, and no one else will be notified based your sample. 
  • Please do not disregard a public health notification about your saliva; the notification is because your individual saliva sample indicates that the virus is present.
The following video gives an overview of how your saliva screening sample is processed.