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College of Pharmacy

Tray of COVID-19 Saliva Test Tubes

Diagnostic Genomics Lab

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To broaden the University of South Carolina’s testing capacity, the College of Pharmacy has received state and federal authorization to collect saliva samples for COVID-19 testing.

Find detailed information about our testing services below:


Frequently Asked Questions

No, the COVID-19 vaccine will not cause a positive test result for a COVID-19 PCR or antigen laboratory test. This is because the tests check for active disease and not whether an individual is immune or not.

However, because the COVID-19 vaccine prompts an immune response, it may be possible to test positive in an antibody (serology) test that measures COVID-19 immunity in an individual. 

People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 ≥2 weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or ≥2 weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen).

For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:

  • Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing.
  • Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease.
  • Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households.
  • Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings.
  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Follow guidance issued by individual employers.
  • Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations.

Yes. SARS-CoV2 Infectious agent detection by nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) - RT-PCR. This PCR test checks for SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease, also called COVID-19, a respiratory illness. What you will usually need for travel is a PCR test (polymerase chain reaction). These are the most reliable tests for detecting active COVID-19 infections and are considered the current “gold standard” of tests. 

The UofSC College of Pharmacy DGL saliva test has been validated in a high complexity CLIA-certified laboratory and submitted to the FDA for an emergency use authorization (EUA). Testing saliva eliminates the need for nasopharyngeal swabs, which have also been prone to shortages, and alleviates the patient discomfort associated with these swabs. Since the saliva sample is self-collected under the observation of a health care professional, it could also potentially lower the risk posed to health care workers responsible for sample collection.

A self-collected saliva sample is as good at detecting COVID-19 as a nasal swab administered by a health care worker -- without exposing medical staff to the virus while collecting the sample.

Researchers found that the agreement between the saliva and swab administered through the mouth was 93%, and that sensitivity was 96.7%. The swab administered through the nose and saliva had a result agreement of 97.7%, with sensitivity of 94.1%.

The UofSC College of Pharmacy DGL saliva test has been validated in a high complexity CLIA-certified laboratory and submitted to the FDA for an emergency use authorization (EUA). The sensitivity and specificity of the UofSC saliva based COVID-19 test is >97.5% accurate.

It is not known if the presence of antibodies to COVID-19 mean the patient is immune to reinfection.

Based on information from the CDC, SC DHEC advises that these tests provide limited information to patients about whether they had a past COVID-19 infection. Positive antibody tests can reliably confirm if someone has had a past infection. They are less reliable in determining if someone is currently infected and should not be used as the only test to make a current diagnosis of COVID-19. We do not know if a positive antibody test as a result of a previous infection offers any protection against a second infection. It will be many months before we can feel reassured that a previous infection offers us an adequate level of protection to keep us safe. People who have a positive or negative antibody test should continue to practice physical distancing and wear a mask when in public or in a group to protect themselves and others.

This step is an added precaution to ensure that the test sample (tube) is properly identified in the lab to the correct patient record. The information on the tube must match the patients name and date of birth in the test registration system for accurate and secure communication of results.

You will only need to produce 5ml, which is approximately a teaspoon.  

The lab needs the liquid portion of your saliva to successfully run your test.  Your saliva must be clear and not discolored, free of food and mucus, and cannot contain residues such as those from brushing your teeth or smoking. 

We encourage you to bring your cell phone to record your test barcode.

Within the 30 minutes before your test:

  • Please do not eat, drink, chew gum, have a mint, or use tobacco products within 30 minutes prior to saliva testing and do not drink water 10 minutes prior to the saliva test.
  • Do not brush or floss your teeth or use mouthwash.
  • You may also want to rinse or gargle your mouth with water to remove any discoloration (such as from coffee) or small pieces of food. Be sure to do this at least one hour before your test. 
  •  Avoid swishing saliva in your mouth or pulling saliva from the back of your mouth.

You can try the following:

  • Hydrate by drinking 16oz of water (at least 10 minutes prior to testing) to help your body hydrate.
  • A hydrated mouth will produce more saliva. Don’t deposit in your tube until you have generated a good bit of saliva. 
  • Think of sour things.
  • Slide the tip of your tongue along your gums behind your teeth to stimulate your salivary glands.
  • Avoid swishing saliva in your mouth or pulling saliva from the back of your mouth.

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