BEIJING, CHINA—Residents have begun using anal swab tests to detect coronavirus, instead of the standard RT-PCR throat or nasal swab, which experts claim to be more accurate.
Dubbed the “derriere method”, Beijing had started using it more frequently during a mass testing drive following the positive test result of a nine-year-old child last week. Over three million people had gotten tested in order to contain the spread, according to the authorities.
Over 1,000 staff members and students at the infected child’s school reportedly submitted to various nucleic acid tests, including anal swabs.
Li Tongzeng of Beijing You’an Hospital said that remnants of SARS-CoV-2 stay longer in the anus or excrement than in the throat or nasal passageways.
“We found that some asymptomatic patients tend to recover quickly,” he explained. “It’s possible that there will be no trace of the virus in their throat after three to five days.”
He continued: “But the virus lasts longer from the samples taken from the patient’s digestive tract and excrement, compared to the ones taken from the respiratory tract. If we conduct anal swabs for nucleic acid testing, it would increase the detection rates of patients and lower chances of a missed diagnosis.”
Other experts however, say otherwise. Deputy director of Wuhan University’s pathogen biology department, Yang Zhanqui said that nasal and throat swabs are still the most efficient form of testing as the virus is proven to be contracted in the respiratory tract rather than digestive.
The procedure, which takes a total of ten seconds, consists of inserting a swab into the rectum about 1.2 to 2 inches deep, rotating it a few times before removing it and placing it in a secure sample container.