COVID Testing: Update

Everything you need to know about collecting samples for COVID-19 tests

(RxWiki News) The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is issuing recommendations about collecting nasal samples for COVID-19 testing.

The concern? If the collection is not obtained correctly, there may not be an adequate sample to test. That may affect the accuracy of the results.

The FDA recommended that health care providers provide clear instructions to patients who will collect their own samples from their nose. These recommendations are solely for those collecting samples in a health care setting — not for at-home testing.

The FDA recommended that health care providers offer verbal instructions in addition to step-by-step written or video instructions.

According to the FDA, instructions for proper sampling may include the following:

  • Place the entire tip of the swab (usually ½ to ¾ of an inch) inside the nose.
    • Rub the side of the swab tip, using moderate pressure, against the wall of the anterior nares region.
    • Move the swab tip through the large circular path inside the nose.
  • Make at least four of these sweeping circles in each nostril. This should take 10 to 15 seconds per nostril. (You will probably use the same swab for both nostrils.)

The incorrect way, which may result in an inadequate sample, is as follows:

  • Twirling the swab against one part of the inside of the nose
  • Leaving the swab in the nose for 10 to 15 seconds

When gathering your own sample, don't be afraid to ask questions. The main goal is to obtain an adequate sample to ensure the most accurate results.

Consumers can also refer to the collection instructions laid out by the CDC.

The CDC does not recommend testing for everyone. Currently, the CDC recommends that the following groups get tested for COVID-19:

  • Those who have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Those who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 (within six feet for a total of 15 minutes or more, according to the CDC)
  • Those who have been asked or referred by their health care provider or local or state health department to get tested

If you are looking to get tested, check your state or local health department’s website or call your health care provider for guidance.

There is some debate as to when you should be tested following exposure. When making an appointment at a testing center, ask whether you are in the recommended testing window.

While you are waiting for results, the CDC recommends that you self-quarantine/isolate at home.