In China, Beijing residents are currently being tested for Covid-19 using anal swabs, rather than the more traditional nose and throat techniques used worldwide. Some experts claim this method is more accurate and increases the chances of detecting the coronavirus, even in asymptomatic people.
However, opinions are divided, and others have suggested that the airway test is more than enough. More than three million people in Beijing have been tested since January 17, after a nine-year-old boy tested positive for Covid-19.
To collect the nucleic acid samples needed for the test, a swab should be inserted into the rectum two or three centimeters, then twisted several times. After performing this movement twice, the swab is removed and placed in a sterile sample container. It takes about 10 seconds.
Anal swabs have been used in China since last year. However, according to a Chinese disease control expert, they are only used for critical groups in quarantine centers because they are very inconvenient for those who receive them.
According to Li Tongzeng of You’re Hospital in Beijing, the coronavirus survives longer in the feces or anus than in the throat and nasal passages. “We have found that some patients who have very few symptoms tend to recover quickly,” he told CCTV, according to the Daily Mail. “So it is possible that the virus may not be in their throat after three to five days. ”
“However, the virus can be detected for a more extended period from samples taken from the patient’s digestive tract and feces, compared to those taken from the respiratory tract. If we take anal swabs for nucleic acid testing, it will increase patients’ detection rate and reduce the risk of a missed diagnosis. ”
Yang Chanqi, deputy director of pathogen biology at Wuhan University, said that swabs from the throat and nose are still the best way to detect the virus because it is transmitted through the respiratory system rather than the digestive system.
He told the Global Times newspaper: “There have been cases in which the Coronavirus was found in the patient’s stool, but there is no evidence to suggest that it transmitted through the digestive system.”