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Self-Collected Nasal Swabs Acceptable for SARS-CoV-2 Testing

Diagnostic equivalence seen across patient-collected nasal swabs, doctor-collected nasal, oropharyngeal swabs

TUESDAY, June 16, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Patient-collected lower nasal specimens may be acceptable for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) testing, according to a research letter published online June 12 in JAMA Network Open.

Jonathan Altamirano, from the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues compared the diagnostic equivalence of patient-collected lower nasal swabs to that of the current clinical standard, health care worker-collected oropharyngeal swabs, in a target population of Stanford Health Care outpatients with a reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction positive test for SARS-CoV-2 in March 2020. Participants were scheduled for drive-through collection of three specimens using a patient-collected lower nasal swab, a physician-collected lower nasal swab, and a physician-collected oropharyngeal swab.

Thirty participants were included in the study; they were predominantly white, with no sex or age group predominance. The researchers found that during the first visit, cough, fever, and sore throat were commonly reported symptoms (67, 43, and 27 percent, respectively). Diagnostic equivalence was reported across the three methods of specimen collection. Across patient- and physician-collected specimens, 11 and 18 participants had test results that were positive and negative for SARS-CoV-2, respectively. There was one discordant result for a participant whose self-collected nasal specimen tested positive, while both physician-collected specimens tested negative. The sensitivity and specificity of patient-collected specimens were 100 and 95 percent, respectively.

“These findings contribute to the recently released U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidance that lists patient-collected lower nasal swab as an acceptable specimen collection method for SARS-CoV-2 testing,” the authors write.

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