Survey of saliva components and virus sensors for prevention of COVID-19 and infectious diseases

Priya Kishor Dave, Roberto Rojas-Cessa, Ziqian Dong, Vatcharapan Umpaichitra

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers saliva contact the lead transmission mean of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Saliva droplets or aerosols expelled by sneezing, coughing, breathing, and talking may carry this virus. People in close distance may be exposed directly to these droplets or indirectly when touching the droplets that fall on surrounding surfaces and ending up contracting COVID-19 after touching the mucosa tissue of their faces. It is of great interest to quickly and effectively detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in an environment, but the existing methods only work in laboratory settings, to the best of our knowledge. However, it may be possible to detect the presence of saliva in the environment and proceed with prevention measures. However, detecting saliva itself has not been documented in the literature. On the other hand, many sensors that detect different organic components in saliva to monitor a person's health and diagnose different diseases, ranging from diabetes to dental health, have been proposed and they may be used to detect the presence of saliva. This paper surveys sensors that detect organic and inorganic components of human saliva. Humidity sensors are also considered in the detection of saliva because a large portion of saliva is water. Moreover, sensors that detect infectious viruses are also included as they may also be embedded into saliva sensors for a confirmation of the presence of the virus. A classification of sensors by their working principles and the substances they detect is presented, including the sensors' specifications, sample size, and sensitivity. Indications of which sensors are portable and suitable for field application are presented. This paper also discusses future research and challenges that must be resolved to realize practical saliva sensors. Such sensors may help minimize the spread of not only COVID-19 but also other infectious diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Clinical Biochemistry


  • COVID-19
  • Droplet detection
  • Human saliva
  • Humidity sensor
  • Multi-modal saliva detection
  • SARS-CoV-2 detection
  • Saliva sensor
  • Virus detection
  • Virus sensor


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