Are healthcare workers needed to test us for COVID-19, or could we successfully perform the tests on ourselves? A new study by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine suggests the latter.
The study, according to the Stanford Medicine News Center, taught 30 people who had previously tested positive for the virus to do their own nasal swabs. They returned to Stanford Health Care and went through drive-through testing, where they collected their own specimens by swabbing both nostrils. A physician then collected two more samples using a nasal swab and a swab applied to the back of the throat and the tonsils.
When comparing self-collected specimens with physician-collected specimens, 29 of the 30 participants received identical results. In one case, the self-administered test showed the presence of the virus whereas the swabs collected by the physician tested negative. Eleven of the participants were positive for the virus, and 18 negative.
The results show promise in efforts to increase testing while also reducing exposure to healthcare workers, said Yvonne Maldonado, MD, professor of pediatric infectious diseases and of health research and policy and a senior author of the study.
“There is an urgent need to increase our testing capacity to slow the overall spread of the virus,” Maldonado said. “A sample collection procedure that can safely and easily be performed by the patient in their own car or at home could reduce the exposure of health care workers and also allow many more people to submit samples for testing.”
Photos credited to Stanford Medicine News Center: Jonathan Altamirano (on left), the lead author of the study, with a self-test kit; Yvonne Maldonado (on right) is the senior author of the study.