COVID testing has continued to increase over the better part of the last year thanks to both a rise in cases throughout the world but also the availability of the test itself. For long periods, at the beginning of the pandemic, getting tested wasn’t a guarantee with the available ones only for those exhibiting clear symptoms. Over these winter months though, tests have been widely available with folks getting the “traditional” nasal swab. But scientists in China have found a more accurate version to use that returns better results. That’s right, forget your nose, the anal swabs are returning much “better” results.
Scientists in China, in the midst of something of an outbreak over a new COVID strain, have taken to using these anal swabs in place of the nasal ones and are apparently getting better results. First and foremost, they are finding more accurate readouts because apparently the virus tends to linger in the digestive tract longer than nasal passages. So a little butt swab is going to paint a clearer picture of infection.
The anal COVID testing, for sure, appears considerably more uncomfortable than the standard nose swab. It involved placing a swab about an inch into the rectum and rotating it some to get a “good” sample. If the goal is to simply have a test that provides the best chance at gaining an accurate diagnosis and not missing something with a false positive or false negative, then it appears this is the way to go. But it’s no surprise that many are speculating to won’t reach critical mass as a tried and true method because it will lack buy in from the larger community.
This new testing is mostly limited to the area of Beijing right now where scientists and disease experts are administering millions of tests over this second wave of the outbreak. And they are trying to concentrate the anal swab to only the hottest of COVID zones because of the discomfort and lack of convenience around this new method of testing. It makes sense, it’s easier to swab a nose than the rectum.
Whether this new type of COVID testing makes its way over to the states remains to be seen. Currently, the US is running around 1.8-2 million tests per day nationwide with more than 25 million cases to date in the country. From the start of the pandemic, the United States death toll sits over 415,000 with almost 300 million total test results.
With new vaccine rollouts increasing on a daily basis, there’s some chance we see a greatly reduced need for testing over the next many months. It would be a welcome sign that the pandemic is starting to ebb and things are returning to “normal”. But that could still be months away and the need for accurate testing will likely always be with us. What are your thoughts on this new method? Would you try it if you knew the results would be more in line with reality?