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Author Notes:

Sarah E. Smith-Jeffcoat, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop H24-5, Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA; email: uyi7@cdc.gov

See publication for full list of authors and acknowledgments.



  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases

Effects of Patient Characteristics on Diagnostic Performance of Self-Collected Samples for SARS-CoV-2 Testing

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Journal Title:



Volume 27, Number 8


, Pages 2081-2089

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


We evaluated the performance of self-collected anterior nasal swab (ANS) and saliva samples compared with healthcare worker–collected nasopharyngeal swab specimens used to test for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We used the same PCR diagnostic panel to test all self-collected and healthcare worker–collected samples from participants at a public hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Among 1,076 participants, 51.9% were men, 57.1% were >50 years of age, 81.2% were Black (non-Hispanic), and 74.9% reported >1 chronic medical condition. In total, 8.0% tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Compared with nasopharyngeal swab samples, ANS samples had a sensitivity of 59% and saliva samples a sensitivity of 68%. Among participants tested 3–7 days after symptom onset, ANS samples had a sensitivity of 80% and saliva samples a sensitivity of 85%. Sensitivity varied by specimen type and patient characteristics. These findings can help physicians interpret PCR results for SARS-CoV-2.

Copyright information:

This is a publication of the U.S. Government. This publication is in the public domain and is therefore without copyright. All text from this work may be reprinted freely. Use of these materials should be properly cited.

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