Some Sask. doctors encouraging throat and nasal swabs for rapid COVID-19 testing
Some Saskatchewan doctors are now encouraging residents to use both a throat and nasal swab on rapid COVID-19 tests.
With the provincial government's emphasis on rapid testing to monitor the Omicron-fuelled wave of the pandemic, early data indicates a throat swab could be more effective for rapid tests to pick up the variant.
Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine, an epidemiologist, said the development is interesting but noted a throat swab should be done in tandem with a nasal swab and not as a replacement.
“I would really say it is a little bit early yet to really kind of change our messaging," Muhajarine said. "Do the throat swab, and the nasal and see whether it is positive."
If a throat swab is being done, it should be done first with the rest of the nasal swab procedure to follow.
Rapid tests are known to present false negatives, making consistent testing key.
"If it is negative, you do another one before you tell yourself you’re completely clear," Muhajarine said.
Regardless, if symptoms appear a PCR test is still considered the gold standard by Muhajarine.
A throat swab for rapid testing is not currently approved by Health Canada, but the Saskatchewan Health Authority said in a statement it "is reviewing emerging evidence about using throat swabs for PCR tests."
"Any changes to current protocols for PCR or rapid tests will be communicated publicly," the SHA said.