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College of Pharmacy

Tray of COVID-19 Saliva Test Tubes

Diagnostic Genomics Lab

Collection Process

The Diagnostic Genomics Lab's COVID-19 saliva test is quick, noninvasive and results can typically be shared within 24-48 hours after the sample is collected.

Note: You should not participate in saliva testing if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. These include, but are not limited to, coughing, fever, sensory loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath, headaches and/or sore throat.


About Our Test

A key factor in the rapid spread of COVID-19 infections across a community is that individuals can have the virus but not display symptoms. In order to monitor potential spread of this sort, public health experts have consistently noted that regular and ongoing COVID-19 testing is crucial for the successful and sustained opening of higher education institutions, specifically for face-to-face instruction. Browse the topics below to learn more about our collection process: 

Students, faculty, and staff who would like to participate in saliva based testing must bring their ID to a registration site. Samples will be collected and coded in a manner that ensures confidentiality and protects privacy. Participation is entirely voluntary. Test results will be shared with SC DHEC and potentially your testing sponsor.

Do not eat or drink anything (including gum, candy or nasal spray) or use any tobacco or vaping products for at least 30 minutes prior to your test. Do not drink water for 10 minutes prior to the administration of your test.

Remember that, at the testing site, you will be asked to provide a saliva sample (5 ml which is equal to one teaspoon), so we encourage you to think about some of your favorite foods while walking to the testing site. Those thoughts of pizza, cheese fries, or milkshake will stimulate the saliva glands in your mouth and make your test go quicker. You can also move your tongue back and forth in your mouth to stimulate saliva flow.

  1. Understand the Environment: Please bring your ID with you. When lining up to enter the testing site, you are expected to remain socially distanced.
  2. Register: When directed by a staff monitor, you will approach the registration table and a collection staff member will register you using your photo ID. The staff member will scan the barcode on an empty sample test tube, attach a label with your information, and will give the tube to you. Take a photograph of the barcode for your reference.

  3. Test Area: You may sit or stand, provided you are socially distanced apart from other people who are testing. Chairs are provided or standing markers will be in place.

  4. Provide Sample: Collect naturally occurring saliva in your mouth and deposit it up to the 5ml mark of your barcoded test tube. (This is the equivalent of one teaspoon.) Bubbles do not count towards your 5 ml of saliva.

  5. Close the Sample Tube Securely: When your clear saliva sample reaches the 5 ml mark, your saliva collection is complete. Secure the test tube top on and proceed to the check out table.

  6. Check Out Table: Following safe social distancing guidelines and when space is available, show your sample tube to a staffer for them to verify the 5 ml volume. Do not hand it to a staffer but carefully place your sample tube into a rack on the table.

  7. Sanitize: Hand sanitizer will be provided to you before you leave.

While there are several variables that can impact the length of time between your test and notification of your results, we will make all efforts to ensure that participants will be able to receive results within 24 to 48 hours.

  • If SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19, is detected in your sample, you will receive a phone call from a contact tracer that will answer questions and provide resources about next steps.
  • If your test is negative, your displayed results will indicate this result. Even if your test is negative, you are encouraged to continue to maintain safe practices.
  • Your sample may also be rejected by the lab if the sample cannot be tested due to sampling errors – if this is the case, you will be offered the opportunity to provide another sample.

Test Participation Assistance

If you believe that you might need personal assistance in providing your sample for the COVID-19 saliva testing for any reason, please email to determine how best to facilitate your participation in the program.

Benefits of Regular COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 is a communicable disease that is easily spread. Re-testing is the very best way to protect your friends and loved ones with whom you come into contact. Regular testing has the opportunity of detecting the virus early. Early detection makes it possible to identify viral infection providing the option of early intervention, treatment and providing necessary information so that appropriate isolation or quarantine procedures can begin, further protecting the people you see most often. Using this testing approach, we can greatly reduce the spread of the virus.

Saliva Based Testing vs. Nasal Swab Testing

Both testing using saliva and the nasal swab testing are safe and both have been scientifically proven to be reliable. 

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