COVID-19: Saliva testing

Last updated: 30 November 2021

What saliva testing is

People may find providing saliva as a sample for COVID-19 testing to be a more comfortable and convenient way compared to a nasopharyngeal or nasal swab taken by a healthcare worker. Saliva samples can be self-collected and dropped off at a collection point or observed by health care worker. Testing is then undertaken by accredited laboratories and follows almost the same process as the testing of samples from nasopharyngeal swabs – both are Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) tests which identify genetic material in the virus.

Saliva can also be used as a sample for some rapid antigen tests, which is processed differently. There is more information on the Rapid antigen testing page.

Who can use saliva testing

Saliva testing is currently available as a testing option in the following settings:

What if I’m already vaccinated?

You can still get COVID-19 if you’re vaccinated but the symptoms are likely to be very mild, or you may not have any symptoms at all. This means that if you are vaccinated and get COVID-19, you may not realise and spread it to others.

Regular saliva testing can help with early detection of the virus and help keep you, your whānau and our communities safe.

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