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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Can gargled water be used as throat swab for COVID-19 test? ICMR says so!

The COVID-19 or the novel Coronavirus has infected around Rs 30 lakh people in India alone. For the infection’s test, nasal swabs and throat swabs are the most widely preferred method for obtaining respiratory samples in order to figure out the presence of SARS CoV2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. Now in a latest development, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has claimed that taking nasal swabs and throat swabs has certain disadvantages that may be overcome by gargling.

As per a cross-sectional study conducted at a tertiary care hospital in New Delhi, (at Delhi’s AIIMS) on 50 confirmed COVID-19 patients, paired swab (NPS and OPS) and gargle samples were taken within 72 hour of diagnosis. They were then processed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for detection of the virus. Eventually, it was found that gargle samples were positive as compared to their corresponding swab samples, irrespective of the symptoms and duration of illness. What’s more? The majority (72%) of the patients only had 24 per cent discomfort with gargle collection. Hence, it was concluded that gargle lavage can be used an an alternative method to take swabs for sample collection.

New study finds gargle water can be used as swab for COVID-19 test

Why is it beneficial?

The decision is crucial because it will not only enable easy self-collection but will also lead to substantial cost savings. To say the least, gargle is an easy-to-perform procedure, can be performed by the patients themselves and will also lead to less usage of personal protective equipment (PPE) by health care workers. Also, with the current procedure, the risk of health workers to get exposed to the virus-containing aerosols remain high.

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