The recent outbreaks of coronavirus around the world have urged countries to take drastic measures in order to prevent further spread. While the United Kingdom has re-imposed a full lockdown, China has found other ways to control the transmission rates of the virus, including mass testing with anal swab tests.
Currently, China is experiencing its worst-ever outbreak of the virus since the first one in Wuhan with most of the new cases linked to international travel. Although standard testing is already being done, the use of anal swabs has been recommended by some of the experts in China to prevent false negatives.
According to some limited evidence, anal swabs can be helpful in detecting coronavirus to an extent as the virus in cases where its respiratory symptoms go away but the infection remains.
Furthermore, the same study also concludes that people have active gastrointestinal infections while having the virus even if there are no infections. Therefore, in order to diagnose coronavirus, taking swabs from the rectal opening is reliable.
However, experts in the US do not share the same views. Not only are anal swabs not as reliable but can be uncomfortable as they require insertion of a two inches swab which may also need rotating multiple times.
Since COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory infection, experts in the US explain that nasal and throat are the best instead of any other. Finding an accurate test for the detection of the virus has taken a lot of time.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention used several samples from people ranging from blood to stool in order to find out the right way of accurate diagnosis.
This is why many of the tests that were used during the spring of 2020 were not as reliable and gave a lot of false positives and negatives. After a whole year, there is enough data and research to show mouth and nose swabs are the best at diagnosing coronavirus infection.
Replacing the standard testing for anal swabs may not be the best of decisions as there is a lack of research on it. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that corroborates the effectiveness of tests used in the US and elsewhere in the world.
In China, the use of anal swabs is not very recent. The use of the swabs along with stool screening has been used for diagnosing coronavirus in the country since March of the past year.
At the start, both of these methods were used only at high-risk infants and children as well as those living in areas with an increasing number of cases.
As both the methods are non-invasive and easier to collect rather than sputum samples in some areas, they are useful in detecting the virus and preventing it from spreading further.
Through these two tests, six people in Hong Kong were also found to have the infection a week after they recovered from their respiratory symptoms as reported by CU Medicine.
While experts in the US do not support entirely eliminating anal swab tests, they state that the gold standard should be used especially when testing in adults.