COVID-19 has caused global biological and socioeconomic problems affecting human life. We’ve been diagnosing it through various means – two being the most common ones, using oral and nasal swab tests. China now says that the anal swab test for COVID-19 is more accurate than respiratory tract methods.
China has introduced a novel testing protocol to detect COVID-19 more accurately for those in quarantine. It involves inserting a cotton swab (3-5 cm or 1-2 inches) in the rectum and then rotating it multiple times to get the sample.
According to China’s official news agency, the COVID-19 cases in Beijing are again rising. Keeping in mind the coming Lunar New Year in China, the doctors have introduced this new testing protocol to control the virus’s spread. The Beijing officials have confirmed that the initial 1,000 anal swab samples were taken from staffers, students, and teachers from the primary school last week – amid a recent Covid outbreak. Many were labeled positive.
However, the procedure has sparked controversy and is not settled yet. Some doctors argue that the anal swab test couldn’t be more accurate than the throat and nasal test – because it’s a respiratory tract viral disease.
According to a pathologist in Beijing, “adding anal swab test to traditional COVID-19 testing can raise the rate of identifying infected people and help control the infection spread. But of course, taking anal swabs is not as convenient as getting throat or nose swabs. Therefore, currently, we should restrict anal testing to only specific groups such as those already in quarantine.”
A recent study published in China does support this theory and has termed anal swab testing more accurate and effective. It concludes that “Intriguingly, COVID-19 was detected positive in two patients with anal swab while the same two persons were negative in sputum and throat swab samples. Although more testing is required, we propose anal swab testing as more effective for the SARS-CoV-2 detection, confirmation of patients in quarantine, and evaluation of patients for hospital discharge”.
Will We See Anal Swabs In The USA Too?
With China now making anal swab testing mandatory for its residents, can this become a necessary requirement to discharge patients from the hospital or as a travel requirement in the US?
Well, just because the traces of viral components may remain longer in the rectum than in the mouth and nose does not mean that anal swab testing is superior to the infection’s gauging transmissibility. Furthermore, currently, there is no such clinical evidence that the COVID-19 virus can be spread through human fecal matter.
China has begun COVID-19 anal swab testing for mass testing to reduce infection spread amid the Lunar New Year. However, there are many concerns related to the convenience of anal swabs. Although most scientists currently disagree with the effectiveness of anal testing, it could soon be a potent tool to detect viruses around the world.
China Deploys Anal Swab Tests To Detect High-Risk COVID-19 Cases