About the test

The University of Illinois saliva test

Our on-campus testing sites administer a saliva-based test, a process developed by the COVID-19 SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell team. Unlike conventional nasal testing, saliva samples are collected non-invasively, without healthcare workers and with minimal use of PPE. 

The University of Illinois System received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the innovative saliva-based COVID-19 test.

The lab processing the samples is certified under the federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) to perform high complexity testing. 


Our test asks individuals to provide a saliva sample because research tells us that saliva is the primary way COVID-19 is spread. More information about the research related to this test method is available.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is performing its new rapid, saliva-based COVID-19 test on all students, faculty and staff.

Compared to the nasal test, the saliva-based test is fast, free of supply chain bottlenecks, and cost-effective, because saliva tests do not require nasal swabs, etc. 

Compared to other saliva tests, our saliva test skips RNA isolation (a cumbersome process), which allows quicker results.

Our studies to date show that our saliva-based test provides results that are comparable to other COVID-19 viral test methods.