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New research hopes to improve COVID-19 nasal swab test
A nasal test for COVID-19 takes just a few seconds, but getting a long swab stuck up the nose isn’t an experience many people would describe as pleasant.
New research led by a team at St. Paul’s Hospital hopes to make the diagnostic process a bit more comfortable. Their study found that rotating the swab after it’s inserted into the nose – a step that makes the procedure take longer, and may increase patient discomfort – does not improve the quality of the sample collected and is therefore unnecessary.
Twist or no twist?
Nasopharyngeal swabs have been used for decades to diagnose respiratory infections. Getting a COVID-19 test involves a trained health care professional inserting a long, flexible swab into the patient’s nostril and along the nasal cavity – about seven centimetres deep – in order to collect a sample from the back of the throat, called the nasopharynx.
Once the swab makes contact with the nasopharynx, however, guidelines differ on what to do next. Some guidelines recommend rotating the swab in place for up to 10 seconds before removing it, while others say this is not necessary.