A study by an infectious disease physician in the Seattle area found that COVID-19 specimens can successfully be taken with a polyester swab, and the sample can be held in saline, as opposed to the nylon swabs and the special transport material currently used.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday changed their guidelines to allow these swabs and saline to be used in testing.

“We unblocked a lot of the supply chain shortages by using something that’s widely available,” said Dr. Yuan-Po Tu told the Associated Press on Friday. Tu, an infectious disease physician at the Everett Clinic co-authored the study with the University of Washington and United Health Group.

Tu also co-authored a study that found that a less-invasive coronavirus testing method allows sick patients to take their own samples, which will protect health care workers, eliminate the need for personal protective gear and speed up the testing process.

The FDA also recently updated its recommendations to allow the self-nose-swab process to be used on patients who have symptoms, said Stephanie Caccome, an FDA spokesperson.

The Washington Department of Health recently recommended the self-testing method to the Department of Social and Health Services as it deals with COVID-19 outbreaks, said Lisa Stromme, a spokesperson for the health agency.  “I believe the pivot on ordering (the new method) was because the tests are easier to do, just as effective, use less PPE, and aren’t as uncomfortable,” she said.

“Patient administered collection is really a game changer,” said Dr. Tu. Their study involved 500 patients across the state of Washington. Their samples accurately detected the disease in 90% of positive patients. 
For additional information on this extraordinary new testing method visit our friends at Associated Press.

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