HealthDay News — Patient-collected lower nasal specimens may be acceptable for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) testing, according to a research letter published in JAMA Network Open.

Jonathan Altamirano, from the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues compared the diagnostic equivalence of patient-collected lower nasal swabs to that of the current clinical standard, health care worker-collected oropharyngeal swabs, in a target population of Stanford Health Care outpatients with a reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction positive test for SARS-CoV-2 in March 2020. Participants were scheduled for drive-through collection of 3 specimens using a patient-collected lower nasal swab, a physician-collected lower nasal swab, and a physician-collected oropharyngeal swab.

Thirty participants were included in the study; they were predominantly white, with no sex or age group predominance. The researchers found that during the first visit, cough, fever, and sore throat were commonly reported symptoms (67%, 43%, and 27%, respectively). Diagnostic equivalence was reported across the three methods of specimen collection. Across patient- and physician-collected specimens, 11 and 18 participants had test results that were positive and negative for SARS-CoV-2, respectively. There was 1 discordant result for a participant whose self-collected nasal specimen tested positive, while both physician-collected specimens tested negative. The sensitivity and specificity of patient-collected specimens were 100% and 95%, respectively.

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“These findings contribute to the recently released US Food and Drug Administration guidance that lists patient-collected lower nasal swab as an acceptable specimen collection method for SARS-CoV-2 testing,” the authors write.

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