COVID-19 test samples collected by people who swabbed their own nasal passages yielded results that are as accurate as samples collected by a health care worker.
In a study published Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers at Stanford taught participants to collect their own samples at a drive-through testing site. Each participant watched a short video animation and read a one-page document instructing them how to perform the swab.
The nasal swab for self-collection is much more comfortable than the long nasopharyngeal swab used to collect samples from the back of the nasal cavity most hospitals are currently using.
Allowing people to collect their own sample for COVID-19 tests has several advantages. These kits could be widely distributed, allowing more people to be tested. People wouldn’t have to travel to a testing site, eliminating the risk of transmission to health care workers doing the current tests. And it would conserve personal protective equipment used by health care workers.
The US Food and Drug Administration now lists patient-collected lower nasal swabs as an acceptable method for specimen collection for COVID-19 testing.
Soon, these self-collected lower nasal swabs could be used to widely test asymptomatic patients at home or at work.