Saliva-Based Testing Process

This is self-administered salvia-based test. It is recommended that you hydrate in the hours before your test, however, you should not eat, drink, smoke, use tobacco products, chew gum or use mouthwash within 30 minutes of your test.
Testing will occur with  physical distancing and masks required. Only those who need to complete testing, or are assisting in the testing process, will be permitted in the testing area.
When you arrive, you will scan a QR code with your mobile device to access the Vault Laboratory testing website to complete patient consent documents. Please use your official Marshall e-mail address in the registration process.
You will then proceed to swipe your Marshall ID card and will be handed an envelope that contains your test. You will then be sent to a sanitized testing table where you will use your phone to associate your unique test code with your profile. There will be a laptop available for anyone who does not have a mobile device.
After following the provided instructions and providing your sample, you will seal your tube and place it in a bag. All wrapping materials are then discarded and as you exit, you will hand your test to a staff member who ensures the test is valid and then places it in a mailing envelope.
Tests are mailed to the laboratory and results are expected to be returned 48-96 hours after being received by the lab. Results are e-mailed to you based on information provided during the registration process.
You will receive results via e-mail to your official Marshall e-mail account from Vault Health, the service contracted to conduct the testing. It is anticipated that results will be available within two to three business days. A representative from the Marshall University COVID team will call you if you have a positive test result. Please note that if results are received late at night, you may not be contacted until the next morning.
Testing typically takes 10-30 minutes. If you have a disability and have difficulty standing for up to 30 minutes, you can request a chair. Please let the person know at the check-in desk. If you are a student who needs accommodations related to the testing process, please contact the Office of Disability Services at 304-696-2467. Employees with questions or requests related to a needed accommodation in the testing process should contact HR at

Frequently Asked Questions – Saliva-Based Testing

This test is comparable in accuracy to the more invasive nasal swab test and is recommended by our state health officials. The assay can detect the virus down to fewer than 10 copies per milliliter of saliva, which is highly sensitive. In practice, 98% of test results are either positive or negative, with only 2% being inconclusive.

The sequences that help to detect the virus (primers) match the viral sequences almost 100% of the time, which ensures that the test is specific only to the 3 selected viral genes, which in combination are only found in the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These are the same selected viral genes tested for in the nasopharyngeal swab PCR test.

This saliva-based test is not an antibody test. It is a PCR test.

Yes. This particular saliva-based test is intended for use under the Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization #200090 authorized on April 10, 2020. This is the only saliva test and saliva collection device that is FDA-authorized for self-collection in the U.S. at this time.

A COVID-19 antibody test is a blood test that can tell if you previously had COVID-19 and have since recovered. The test involves having your blood drawn at a healthcare facility. It checks for the presence of a particular antibody your body makes when it’s fighting the virus. These antibodies appear in your bloodstream after you’ve been infected.

An antibody test is not the same as a nasal swab or saliva-based PCR test and does not check for the presence of the virus that causes COVID-19. You should not get an antibody test if you’re currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or need to know if you are currently infected.

The global scientific and medical community still has much to discover and learn about the virus and its resulting disease. For the individual patient, an antibody test is currently unlikely to change your medical management or what precautions you need to use such as physical distancing or masking in public.

At this time, the antibody test is most useful to understand how much the disease has spread in the community and potentially predict if a second surge of cases is likely to occur. The results may also help develop new treatments and even a vaccine.

One challenge with current antibody tests is that there is a high likelihood (almost 50% for some tests) of having a “false positive” result. This means the test will be positive when the person has never had the disease. This is true for all COVID-19-related antibody tests, including very good ones.

The scientific and medical community believe most who are infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic or may not show any known symptoms of an infection. This saliva-based PCR test will confirm infection between 2 and 28 days since exposure to the virus.

A negative test confirms that the individual has not been infected and is “safe” as long as they continued to maintain vigilance from the time they took the test to receiving the results. A positive test means that the individual should isolate and monitor symptoms.

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