New COVID-19 tests for those on campus


Couresty of Vault

Vault Health, the first FDA Emergency Use Authorization approved saliva test for COVID-19, has a 98% conclusive rate.

Pamela Li, Contributing Reporter

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the United States, colleges and universities are expanding testing services in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus across campuses. Since August, Case Western Reserve University has administered nearly 9,000 COVID-19 tests. Over the course of the semester, CWRU has continually conducted surveillance testing by mandating randomly selected students to be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. 

Although all on-campus students are familiar with the conventional nasopharyngeal swab test for COVID-19, where a long swab is inserted deep into the nasal cavity to obtain secretions, the university has recently introduced a new—and far less uncomfortable—method of testing for students: saliva-based tests. 

The new saliva collection test, administered by a company called Vault Health, is the first FDA EUA authorized saliva test for COVID-19. The test consists of an individual depositing a substantial amount of saliva into a test tube and securely sealing it. Laboratories test for COVID-19 by extracting genetic material from the contents in the tube and searching for specific genes from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. If said genes are detected in the sample, the test is considered positive for COVID-19. 

The testing is being carried out in Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center. Students who are mandated for the new surveillance testing must schedule an appointment through MyHealthConnect to get tested. The previous nasal swab tests continue to be administered in the center’s indoor track area. 

By expanding the array and accessibility of testing available throughout campus, CWRU is helping the community remain safe by monitoring the number of active cases that arise. Of course, students are strongly encouraged to continue social distancing and wearing masks in order to do their part as well.