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Anal swabs the future of COVID-19 testing? Chinese researchers say virus lingers longer in anus

While nose and throat swabs have been described as the gold standard for COVID-19 testing, some Chinese researchers believe that anal swabs may be more accurate.

Chinese state TV on Wednesday (January 27) reported that the nation had begun using anal swabs to test those it considers at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

Health Officials have pointed to instances where individuals were tested via nose/ throats swabs and were found to be COVID-19 negative.

However, subsequently tests via an anal swab confirmed that they had the virus.

According to a senior doctor, who works at a hospital in the Chinese capital of Beijing, an anal swab can increase the detection rate of infected people.

“We found that some asymptomatic patients tend to recover quickly. It’s possible that there will be no trace of the virus in their throat after three to five days,” Tongzeng said.

“But the virus lasts longer from the samples taken from the patient’s digestive tract and excrement, compared to the ones taken from the respiratory tract. If we conduct anal swabs for nucleic acid testing, it would increase the detection rates of patients and lower the chance of a missed diagnosis.” added Tongzeng.

Anal swabs have already been taken from some Bejing residents as they country tackles  experience a fresh wave of the coronavirus.

China was COVID-19 free on March 19, 2020 — claiming it had zero cases — however it has seen  outbreaks across the country in Xinjiang, Beijing, Yunnan, Wuhan, Jilin, Qingdao, Tianjin, Inner Mongolia, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

A new surge of cases started in Hebei Province in early January and has spread to cities near Beijing which has health officials worried.

While anal swabs have not yet been administered in the rest of the world, the European Commission said it was not ruling it out, but would be guided by the science.


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