Self-swab tests for the novel coronavirus work just as well as those performed by healthcare workers, a new study finds.
Researchers, led by insurance provider UnitedHealth Group, found positive cases in more than 90 percent of patients, which is the same rate at which clinicians
The team says patient-administrated tests will reduce the risk of exposure for doctors and nurses as well as improve the overall efficiency for testing.
It comes on the heels of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updating its guidelines to allow patients to swab their own noses or throats for the virus.
A new study found that elf-administered tests detected COVID-19 in more than 90% patients, which is the same rate that clinician-administered tests detected the virus. Pictured: A health care worker takes a swab from a man at a mobile testing site in The Villages, Florida, March 23
The self-swab test allows people to swab the front part of the nostril and mid-nose rather than deep inside the nasal cavity. Pictured: Doctors test hospital staff with flu-like symptoms for coronavirus at Barnabas hospital in the Bronx in New York City, March 24
Researchers say the self-swab tests are less invasive and preserve personal protective equipment such as gloves and face masks. Pictured: A patient arrives at Mount Sinai West Hospital in New York City, March 26
The current test for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, required a clinician collecting a sample from deep inside the patient’s nasal cavity.
Researchers argue that not only are healthcare workers wasting vital personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, but it is uncomfortable for the patient.
The self-swab test allows people to swab the front part of the nostril and mid-nose, which is less invasive.
For the study, which has sent to a peer-reviewed journal, the team examined 500 patients from OptumCare, a health group that falls under the UnitedHealth umbrella.
Results showed that self-administered swab tests detected COVID-19 in at least 90 percent of positive patients.
That’s the same rate at which clinician-administered test detect the virus.
‘We know that broad, rapid and accurate testing is essential to addressing the COVID-19 crisis,’ said lead author Dr Yuan-Po Tu, an infectious disease expert at The Everett Clinic, in Washington state.
‘Yet the current clinician-administered process significantly limits testing capacity, puts frontline health care workers at risk of COVID-19 exposure, and is unpleasant for patients.’
He says that by patient administering testing themselves, it will not only protect medical workers but also preserve PPE, including face masks, gloves and gowns.
UnitedHealth says it plans to roll out self-swab test in Seattle starting on Monday and hopes to do so in more states as soon as possible.
Washington state has already recorded at least 130 deaths from coronavirus, second only to New York with 385 deaths.
As of Thursday there are over 83,000 cases of the virus in the US and over 1,000 deaths
The number of cases in the US has rocketed over the last two weeks
However, some health experts have expressed some concern about self-swabbing due to the potential of supplies running low and people not complying with doctors’ orders.
Two physicians wrote in the Harvard Business Review that home testing should be allowed, so long as their three bits of advice are followed.
They ask the people with non-severe symptoms to call a telemedicine service first before running to a healthcare facility.
Second is to help people perform the test correctly so it doesn’t cause physical discomfort or result in a false negative.
Lastly, they ask that patients self-quarantine for 48 to 72 hours until their test results return so they don’t infect others.
In the US, there are more than 73,000 confirmed cases of the virus and there are more than 1,000 deaths.