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Health Highlights: April 14, 2020

Last Updated: April 14, 2020.

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

First Saliva Test for COVID-19 Approved by FDA

The first saliva test for COVID-19 was approved Monday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The test, developed by Rutgers University researchers, provides another testing option and could lower healthcare workers' risk of coronavirus infection, the Associated Press reported.

At first, the test will be available at hospitals and clinics affiliated with the university.

Currently, screening for COVID-19 requires a healthcare worker to take a swab from a patient's nose or throat. For the new saliva test, patients spit into a plastic tube and then give the tube back to a healthcare worker for laboratory testing.

"This prevents healthcare professionals from having to actually be in the face of somebody that is symptomatic," Andrew Brooks, who directs the Rutgers lab that developed the test, told the AP.

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Coronavirus Antibody Tests Must be Free: U.S. Government

Health insurers and Medicaid must provide free coverage for tests to detect coronavirus antibodies in people who've been infected, the federal government said.

Documents dated April 11 explain that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has decided that serology testing for coronavirus antibodies should be considered an "in vitro diagnostic test" and treated the same as tests to detect the virus itself, CBS News reported.

That means that copays, co-insurance and deductibles, in or out of network, must be waived for coronavirus antibody tests.

People with antibodies to the new coronavirus may have some degree of immunity from reinfection, which means they might be able to safely return to work or school. Widespread testing to identify these people could be crucial in gradually easing lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, CBS News reported.


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