TORONTO -- Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario are developing an at-home saliva test for COVID-19 that can be ready in 20 minutes, something they say could be a key to returning to a normal life.

University of Waterloo professor Sushanta Mitra is one of the co-lead researchers on this project. He spoke with CTV's Your Morning on Wednesday to talk about the saliva test.

The tests work by placing saliva on a paper device, which uses nanoparticles that can target the SARS-CoV-2 virus. If the paper turns red, that indicates a positive test.

Results can be had in 20 minutes, much faster than the nasal swab tests that are currently used, which could take up to three days to see results. But Mitra says the speed of the test isn't the only advantage.

"The advantage of this is having it on a paper platform, which has a minimal environmental footprint," said Mitra.

Mitra also says the paper tests cost much less than nasal swabs and can even potentially be used for large gatherings, such as concerts, in the future.

"We see this as a very important tool in terms of our post COVID-19 recovery economic recovery for the province and for the country as well," Mitra said.

The Waterloo researchers are working with a company called ChitoLytic Inc. to develop the paper tests. Mitra says his team is working with Health Canada and other regulators to make sure it's ready for market and expects test products to be available for small and medium-sized enterprises within six months.

"Hopefully within maybe eight to 12 months, it should be available to your neighborhood pharmacies.”