Hoo boy, China’s going there.
Beijing has begun using anal swabs to test its residents for COVID-19, “a method that experts say is more accurate and raises the chances of detecting the virus,” the Daily Mail reported on Wednesday.
“To collect test samples, the swab needs to be inserted about three to five centimeters (1.2 to 2 inches) into the rectum and rotated several times. After completing the motion twice, the swab is removed before being securely placed inside a sample container. The whole procedure is said to take about 10 seconds,” said the U.K. paper.
The Mail cited Li Tongzeng from Beijing’s You’an Hospital, who said on state broadcaster CCTV that traces of the virus coronavirus are detectable longer in the anus or in feces than samples taken from the throat and nose.
“We found that some asymptomatic patients tend to recover quickly. It’s possible that there will be no trace of the virus in their throat after three to five days,” Li said. “But the virus lasts longer from the samples taken from the patient’s digestive tract and excrement, compared to the ones taken from the respiratory tract.”
“If we conduct anal swabs for nucleic acid testing, it would increase the detection rates of patients and lower the chance of a missed diagnosis,” the expert said.
The new method of testing was begun in recent days, The Washington Post reported.
“Some Chinese doctors say the science is there. Recovering patients, they say, have continued to test positive through samples from the lower digestive tract days after nasal and throat swabs came back negative,” said the Post.
“Yet for many, it seemed a step too far in government intrusions after a year and counting of a dignity-eroding pandemic. ‘Everyone involved will be so embarrassed,’ one user in Guangdong province said on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, on Wednesday. In a Weibo poll, 80 percent of respondents said they ‘could not accept’ the invasive method,” the paper wrote.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says “for initial diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2, CDC recommends collecting and testing an upper respiratory specimen.”
“Sterile swabs should be used for the collection of upper respiratory specimens. This is important to preserve both patient safety and specimen integrity. Please note that nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal specimens are not appropriate for self-collection. The following are acceptable specimens depending on the authorized SARS-CoV-2 viral test used:
- A nasopharyngeal (NP) specimen collected by a trained healthcare provider
- An oropharyngeal (OP) specimen collected by a trained healthcare provider
- A nasal mid-turbinate specimen collected by a trained healthcare provider or by a supervised or unsupervised onsite self-collection (using a flocked tapered swab), or self-collected at home following kit collection instructions
- An anterior nares specimen collected by a trained healthcare provider, or by a supervised or unsupervised onsite self-collection or self-collected at home following kit collection instructions (using a flocked or spun polyester swab)
- Nasopharyngeal wash/aspirate or nasal wash/aspirate (NW) specimen collected by a trained healthcare provider
- A saliva specimen collected by the person being tested, either at home or at a testing site under supervision.