News & Opinion | August 15, 2020 4:03 pm

The NBA’s New COVID-19 Test Now Has FDA Approval

The test, developed at Yale, offers lower costs than most with a high rate of accuracy

NBA logo
An NBA logo is shown at the 5th Avenue NBA store on March 12, 2020 in New York City.
Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

You can learn a lot about testing sizable populations of people for COVID-19 when they’re contained within a (metaphorical, in this case) bubble. So when you hear that the NBA has backed a saliva-based test for COVID-19, that crossover of sports league and technological investor is less strange than it might seem at first.

Today brings with it the news that the NBA-backed test has been approved by the FDA. Zach Lowe at ESPN has the details; the FDA approved it via an emergency authorization, and the test was developed at Yale University. And the costs of the test are relatively low, all things considered:

The test, known as SalivaDirect, is designed for widespread public screening. The cost per sample could be as low as about $4, though the cost to consumers will likely be higher than that — perhaps around $15 or $20 in some cases, according to expert sources.

Yale’s methods included testing players and staff with both SalivaDirect and a swabbing method, and then comparing the results. Based on the research (which, ESPN notes, has not been peer reviewed), the results of the two were incredibly close.

The article notes that another high-profile saliva test exists, this one via Rutgers University. The Yale method looks to be both significantly cheaper and has a faster turnaround — welcome news for people who’d been waiting days, if not longer, for the results of certain tests. Sources told ESPN that the speed and flexibility of this new test would also have an effect on the NBA’s 2020-21 season, if travel is involved.

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