China rolls out anal swab for coronavirus

China has rolled out anal swab test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) which the country claims to be more accurate than conventional throat swab test.

The new test, according to a report by the Washington Post, is being rolled out in people who are in quarantine reportedly “prompting widespread discussion and some outrage”.

It is said that through the anal swab some positive results have been confirmed in people who had initially tested negative following the nasal and throat respective swabs.

“Some Chinese doctors say the science is there. Recovering patients, they say, have continued to test positive through samples from the lower digestive tract days after nasal and throat swabs came back negative”, reads the report by the Post.

Medical doctors cited by the paper claim that adding the anal swab testing will raise the rate of identifying infected patients who may end up getting a false negative result in the nasal and throat swab test.

However, the doctors said the new approach can not be carried out in public like the other swabs owing to its unconventional procedure.

“If we add anal swab testing, it can raise our rate of identifying infected patients…But considering that collecting anal swabs is not as convenient as throat swabs, at the moment only key groups such as those in quarantine receive both” Li Tongzeng, an infectious-disease specialist at Beijing You’an Hospital, has been quoted as saying.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention is said to recommend that a stool sample should be taken from patients, and if that is not possible, to do an anal swab by inserting a cotton-tipped stick three to five centimeters (one to two inches) into the rectum.

It is however not conclusively known how positive cases are detected in feaces considering that the virus is known to be contracted via the upper respiratory tract rather than the digestive system.

Questions are therefore being asked on whether the new approach is effective or that the detection in a person’s excrement through anal swab should suggest further mutation of the virus that has killed more than 2,175,245 globally as new and more deadlier strains are being detected in different countries world over.

“There have been cases concerning the coronavirus testing positive in a patient’s excrement, but no evidence has suggested it had been transmitted through one’s digestive system,” Yang Zhanqiu, a deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, told the Global Times.

As of today, close to 101 million cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed globally while Malawi has registered close to 22 thousand cases since April last year out of over 135 thousand suspected cases.

Locally, 555 (five hundred fifty five) people have died of Covid-19. Malawi, which plans to vaccinate about 3.8 million people is yet to announce whether it will consider adopting the anal swab.