COVID-19 testing has been a headache for the medical community. It requires personal protective equipment we don’t have to spare, takes a skilled healthcare worker to administer, and if you’ve ever shoved a swap up your nose, you’ll understand they aren’t comfortable.
Turns out test results are more accurate with a loogie — medicine refers to this as a sputum sample.
The PREPRINT study, meaning not yet peer-reviewed, states:
“The sputum possessed the highest positive rate (74.4%~88.9%), followed by nasal swabs (53.6%~73.3%) for both severe and mild cases during the first 14 days after illness onset.”
This could be good news for the US, which is behind on testing and fast becoming the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. The US has 190,000 cases as of April 1, 2020, at 11:51 am EST.
The FDA approved a 2-minute serological test, meaning it uses a blood sample, from Bodysphere Inc. The test cannot detect the infection for the first few days because it relies upon reaction with antibodies that the body takes several days to produce in response to infection.
Another test purported to take minutes received FDA approval and intends to deliver 50,000 tests to New York City today. The Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 testing is mobile. Positives delivered in five minutes and negatives in thirteen using nasal or oral swabs. The results detect the virus, whereas the Bodysphere Inc. test detects the body’s response to the virus.
That is quite an improvement for US testing that has been taking two to five days. Rapid, scaled-up testing is one of the major obstacles that threatened to keep the US in lockdown-esque mode indefinitely.