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Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Most of us have gotten used to shoving nasal swabs up our noses to check for the virus that causes COVID-19. But there's also another kind of test that's still being researched: a saliva test that may tell us more.

Driving the news: The Yale School of Medicine is promoting a study by its researchers that suggests the saliva test might not just be less invasive — it might also be a better way to tell who's going to get severely ill.

How it works: By gathering a bit of saliva to see if it contains the virus, doctors can get a pretty good idea of whether a patient has an advanced enough case that they should receive an early treatment like monoclonal antibodies, according to the Yale researchers.

  • If the virus has gotten into the saliva, that's a sign that it's probably gotten into the lungs, which is where it can do the most damage.

The catch: Right now, the saliva test can only be performed in authorized labs. It's not the kind of test the average person can just go out and get.

  • But the Yale researchers say it might become more widely available if more studies confirm its usefulness and the FDA approves it. (It just has an emergency use authorization at the moment.)

Go deeper

Feb 16, 2021 - Health

Fauci: Timeline for widespread COVID-19 vaccine availability slightly delayed

Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Most Americans will be able to get their coronavirus vaccines between the middle of May and early June, President Biden's chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci told CNN on Tuesday.

Why it matters: That timeframe is slightly delayed from Fauci's previous projection of late March to early April, and it comes after Johnson & Johnson failed to meet its promised supply timetable due to lags in production.

Feb 17, 2021 - Health

Biden and Fauci mark White House Snapchat return with pandemic message

A screenshot of President Biden's Snapchat video. Photo: White House

The White House marked a return to Snapchat with President Biden and his chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, appearing in public health video messages on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Details: In the White House Snapchat story, which appears on the "Discover" page of curated content, a masked Biden urges users to wear face coverings because "you're going to save lives."

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Louisiana officials find "probable" Omicron case in cruise ship COVID outbreak — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: NYC to impose vaccine mandate on private employers — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy.
  4. World: U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.