Why the U.S. hasn’t used Israel’s throat swab Covid test

The infamous nasal swab Covid test may soon be a thing of the past.

In testimony before the Senate this week, White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci and Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock discussed an increasingly popular theory that throat swabs are better than nasal swabs More efficient detection of omicron variants of Covid, especially in rapid antigen tests.

“Recent reports have stated that, in fact, [there may be higher] Sensitivity and Detection Capability [the virus] On Tuesday, Fauci told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, “At least on the omicron it’s a throat swab and a nasopharyngeal swab. I think it needs to be validated and validated.”

Omicron is said to be less detectable than other variants in the current test model, it is mainly used as a upper respiratory virus, according to recent reports. early research Said that means the variant can be detected in saliva faster than the nose.

Variations of the throat swab method have been implemented in some countries.On Monday, the Israeli Ministry of Health Say Those who self-test for the virus must swab their nose and throat to increase their chances of being tested.As early as May 2020, the British government shared Instructional videos on its website show how to take a nose and throat sample with a single swab.

In the U.S., nationwide testing demand is very high, and rapid testing is considered only partially reliable: According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, home antigen tests like BinaxNow are about 85 percent accurate in detecting positive cases. More reliable rapid tests can detect the virus more quickly and accurately, potentially alleviating national demand for testing kits.

During the Senate hearing, Woodcock said the FDA could approve the new method “very quickly” if studies confirmed its effectiveness, but that manufacturers would need to “change the test configuration to accommodate larger swabs.”

For now, all test kits should be used as designed, she said.

Other medical experts in the US are also advocating caution.

Don Milton, professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, told Wall Street Journal On Tuesday, his own lab showed that omicron can be more efficiently traced through saliva. If confirmed, Milton said, rapidly dispersing throat swabs could help reduce the risk of people getting false negatives and inadvertently spreading the virus.

However, he noted that more research is needed to confirm his results. “There is a known risk of false negatives for nasal swabs, and an unknown risk of false positives for throat swabs,” he said.

During a Senate hearing, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky noted that her agency is currently “routinely” counting PCR test results while “passively” reporting rapid test results. If testing methods change, the agency’s collection methods may also adapt.

“Calculating the case is more important than calculating the case [the] People stay home, isolate, do the right thing…before it spreads,” Walensky said, referring to people showing mild to severe Covid symptoms. “One of the really important purposes of these rapid tests is that even if we don’t It counts to enable the public to do the right thing in this pandemic. “

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