Yale School of Public Health dean on board with throat swab for home COVID testing, others disagree

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (WTNH) – If you’re one of the thousands of people across Connecticut who have got their hands on a state’s free, home-based rapid COVID test, you might be wondering how to do it right.

Discussions are increasing on social networks among the public and some health professionals about the possibility of not only rubbing your nose but also your throat. At this time, taking a sample from your throat is not recommended by the FDA.

When you decide to take a quick test, Dr Sheldon Campbell, a professor of laboratory medicine at Yale, said the most important thing to do is read the instructions and follow them. He said don’t hesitate to put the swab in your nose.

“Don’t just run it through your nose for half a second and say it’s good enough,” Campbell said. “Go ahead and get a nice gushy and icky sample. “

Campbell said these tests are particularly good at detecting if a person has a lot of the virus and therefore is truly contagious. They can also detect omicron, but their effectiveness in detecting the variant is still under investigation and just as our technology fails, the results of a rapid test may be inaccurate.

This is why there is talk on social networks of wiping your throat as well. It is currently recommended by the UK equivalent of the CDC here in the US. You take a sample from your throat and then from your nose in the same test.

Campbell does not want to recommend this method with other health professionals, but the Dean of the Yale School of Public Health, Dr Sten Vermund, feels different depending on omicron unknowns and the common symptom of a sore throat.

“At this point we’re flying a bit blindly and if we wanted to maximize the likelihood of positivity, there would be little harm in sampling the nose and also sampling the saliva,” Vermund said.

When Vermund says saliva, he is not referring to saliva. He’s talking about wiping the throat.

“Just go back to have a little gag and that’s good enough,” said Vermund.

While it’s not clear if you could get a better result, he doesn’t think there is any harm in trying and believes it might have some benefits.

“If you took the swab, sampled the throat, then took the same swab and sampled the nose, you would have a dual strategy of sampling with both saliva and mucus from the nasal passages,” said Vermund, “and that could maximize the chances of finding a positive.”

He says if you dab your throat, don’t eat or drink 15-30 minutes beforehand.

Research is still ongoing. The FDA issued the following statement:

“The FDA advises that COVID-19 tests should be used as authorized, including following their instructions for use regarding obtaining the sample to be tested. The FDA has noted safety concerns with self-collection of throat swabs because they are more complicated than nasal swabs – and if misused, they can harm the patient. The CDC recommends that throat swabs be taken by a qualified healthcare professional. “

Regardless of how you perform the test, be sure to check your results on time. If you test negative but are symptomatic, isolate anyway and take a PCR test.

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Hector Hedgepeth

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