BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Designated a COVID hotspot, the state along with the federal government has begun ramping up testing in Jefferson County. However, the fear of a painful experience, some worried, would keep some folks from getting tested.
Dr. Wesley Willeford with the Jefferson County Department of Health said as the country has learned more about COVID-19, researchers have been able to make testing turnaround quicker, with rapid testing, and relatively painless.
Willeford said the deeper sample is called a nasopharyngeal swab, known to be uncomfortable was generally universally used at the beginning of the pandemic.
He said it was because, at the time, the evidence showed the nasopharynx is where the virus was usually concentrated.
But research is showing a sample from the front of the nose can also detect COVID. The new method is called a nasal swab. The nasal swap takes less than 5 seconds. The providers get a sample from each nostril, swirling the q-tip around a few times. The sensation is similar to a tickle and is painless.
According to Willeford, both tests are still being used depending on the provider.
We asked if one is more accurate than the other.
“There is slightly more accuracy with the nasopharyngeal swab because you’re going back a little deeper than you are with the nasal swab but for most practical purposes the nasal swap seems to be a good way to quickly test someone,” Dr. Willeford said.
If you prefer one test over the other, Dr. Wileford said ask your provider which test they use before it’s administered.
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