The anal test performed in Spain
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage with the appearance of new variants since the end of 2020, new screenings are starting to gain ground. Indeed, after China, the anal test arrives in Spain.
It is in Galicia, an autonomous community located in the northwest of the country, that the screening by anal swab is prescribed for certain patients, revealed on January 27 on the television channel CTRVG. The Galician Minister of Health has also confirmed the news.
Less invasive tests
However, rectal testing concerns “critically intubated patients, who therefore cannot receive nasal PCR tests,” said a spokesperson for the Galicia Ministry of Health.
In addition, the anal test has not yet been extended to the whole of Spain. “We don’t use anal swabs yet,” says a nurse at Velma Hospital in Seville, Andalusia. “But I think these tests are less invasive than nasal swabs,” adds the nurse.
Spain: does the anal test allow better detection of the coronavirus?
Moreover, before Spain, China had already performed the anal test since March 2020. They are currently reserved for subjects at risk and travelers arriving from abroad.
But there is a reason why rectal screening is of interest to health professionals. According to doctor Li Tongzeng, from You’re Hospital in Beijing, it “helps increase the detection rate of infected people.”
It would therefore be particularly effective with asymptomatic or mildly infected people. Especially since “covid-19 remains present longer in the anus than in the respiratory tract”, explains Li Tongzeng. Which would avoid false negatives.
The shared scientific community
However, while it has certainly arrived in Spain, the anal test is not without controversy. First of all, because all the experts do not agree on its effectiveness. Starting with Yang Zhanqiu, director of the pathogen biology unit at Wuhan University.
According to him, swabs from the throat and nose remain more efficient in detecting covid-19. The reason is that the disease affects the respiratory tract and not the digestive system.
A “super humiliating” screening
Then, because the anal test, in Spain as in China, causes discomfort. Thus, on the Weibo social network, many Internet users denounce “super humiliating” screening. And to mock this practice.
Therefore, the acceptability of large scale rectal testing is problematic. This is acknowledged by Lu Hongzhou, director of the Clinical Center for Public Health at Fudan University. We can therefore assume that anal screening is not ready to arrive in France.