Hiqa: Nasal swabs 'a possibility' for adult Covid tests

The health watchdog is looking at international studies into coronavirus diagnostics.
Hiqa: Nasal swabs 'a possibility' for adult Covid tests

'The current test is a deep nasal and throat swab, which can be quite uncomfortable.'

Adults could soon be able to have the same simple nasal swab as children, Hiqa says 

The health watchdog is looking at international studies into Covid-19 diagnostics. This work has already led the Government to cut the number of days from 14 to 10 that people with mild Covid-19, who do not have a fever, need to self-isolate.

Dr Máirín Ryan, Hiqa’s deputy CEO and director of health technology assessment, said: “It is important that the Irish guidance on the duration of self-isolation is informed by the most up-to-date evidence from around the world.

“From the evidence we reviewed, patients with mild-to-moderate Covid-19 disease are unlikely to be infectious beyond 10 days from their first symptoms.” 

However, she warned that the reduction of the time people need to self-isolate does not apply to patients with severe-to-critical symptoms and those who are immunocompromised, as they might be infectious for 20 days or more.

On swabbing, she said: “We are currently looking at any advances in the availability of diagnostic tests for Covid-19. That's a review that will come out in a few weeks time.

“The current test is a deep nasal and throat swab, which can be quite uncomfortable.

“We did look at the evidence a number of weeks ago, around using a nasal sample about one or two centimetres in the nose, which is much more tolerable.

“And we also looked at saliva samples.

Actually on the basis of that review, there was a change that children from now on will be able to have just nasal swabs as opposed to the nasopharyngeal swabs.

Asked if adults could soon be able to be tested using a more simple nasal swab, she replied: “It's good for kids, so maybe in two weeks it is a possibility, maybe it can be good for adults.

“There's ongoing work to see whether it can be used for other patient groups but also there's ongoing work to look at validation of saliva as a possible option.

“We won't have the results from those studies for a few weeks.” 

Hiqa’s summary of international evidence was developed following a request from the Department of Health’s National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

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