Question over invasive coronavirus tests debunked: nasal swabs get to where the virus lives – OregonLive

The Associated Press checks out some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. Here are the facts:

CLAIM: “Why such an invasive test for COVID-19 if it is so easily transmitted through droplets? A mouth swab would suffice if this was as deadly as they claim it to be. Someone is lying again.”

THE FACTS: As the U.S. coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000, posts online are questioning the invasiveness of nasal tests.

The answer is simple: Nasal swabs allow for a sample to be taken where the respiratory virus lives.

Saliva tests for the virus have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are also available. How the virus spreads and fatality rates is not what drives testing methods.

Dr. Steven Woloshin, co-director of the Center for Medicine and Media at The Dartmouth Institute, told The Associated Press that the tests are designed to tell whether a person is carrying the virus.

Nasal swabs are also used for respiratory infections like the flu, noted Neysa Ernst, nurse manager in the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital. They are used to collect cells from an area in the back of the nose and throat known as the nasopharynx, where respiratory viruses live.

“For years we have done respiratory specimens from the nasal swab so that was always considered to have the highest sensitivity,” Ernst said.

The FDA has given emergency use authorization for several saliva tests, an alternative to nasal swabs tests, which are prone to shortages. Doctors said saliva tests also help break down barriers to testing.

“If you can find ways to make it more convenient, less invasive and less painful people are more likely to do it,” Woloshin said.