Arizona health experts discuss ASU-developed saliva test, other innovations spurred by COVID-19

Two Arizona health experts talk about some of the medical innovations that have taken place since the COVID-19 pandemic began in this episode of Arizona in Focus.

Medical innovations spurred by the pandemic

Arizona in Focus

Arizona in Focus is a podcast from Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS. This season we are focusing on science and technology stories that explore everything from driverless cars to innovating a vaccine during the pandemic.

PHOENIX – The COVID-19 pandemic has created great uncertainty and fear, but it also has sparked innovation in the medical field, including developing tests for the coronavirus that causes the disease. Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute has played a major role in creating a saliva-based test that’s now offered widely around the state.

“We’ve been constantly endeavoring to increase the level of testing we’re doing, make sure that we maintain the rapid turnaround time that we have for the testing because that’s essential for it (a test) to be useful,” Joshua LaBaer, executive director of the Biodesign Institute, told Cronkite News.

Coronavirus tests after Thanksgiving show Arizona is experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 cases, but there is a glimmer of hope with COVID-19 vaccines, LaBaer said. In mid-December, distribution of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine began in Arizona with health care workers, educators and those most vulnerable to the illness receiving the vaccine. It’s a process LaBaer said will take months.

In this episode of Arizona in Focus, LaBaer and Will Humble, who directs the Arizona Public Health Association, share insights on medical innovations during the pandemic.

Mitchell Zimmermann

News Broadcast Reporter, Phoenix

Mitchell Zimmermann expects to graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in political science. Zimmermann, who is interning with NBC Nightly News and has interned with 12 News, PBS NewsHour and KTAR, is working for the Phoenix news bureau.