Omicron Variant

Will Omicron Better Show Up in a Throat Swab?

Some experts are suggesting people should swab their throat, in addition to their nose, to better detect the omicron variant

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If you have a COVID-19 at-home rapid test, should you swab your throat, instead of your nose?

The #SwabYourThroat" has popped up on Twitter, where people are sharing their experiences of testing negative when swabbing their nose, but positive when adding the throat swab.

Using a throat swab to detect COVID-19 isn't new and has been done in the U.K. since 2020.

We asked Katelyn Jetelina, Ph.D., infectious disease epidemiologist with UTHealth School of Public Health in Dallas, to weigh in.

"You should actually try swabbing your throat and your nasal passageway with the same swab," said Dr. Jetelina.

She said infection from Omicron may not hit your nasal passageways until a few days in and testing too early might result in a false negative.

There are instructions online on how to swab your throat and Dr. Jetelina has a few tips also detailed in her blog.

"Keep in mind not to drink and eat anything acidic, like coffee, or soda or fruit juices right before because this could produce a false positive. Also, we want to avoid brushing your teeth or using mouthwash before throat swab too, because this could lead to a false negative. So just make sure that you don't change anything in the dynamics of your mouth before you test and um, and remember to also test that nasal passageway as well," said Jetelina.

The at-home tests are done with a nasal swab and the FDA urged people to continue to use them as authorized, including following the instructions when it comes to collecting a test sample, according to TODAY.

“The FDA has noted safety concerns regarding self-collection of throat swabs, as they are more complicated than nasal swabs — and if used incorrectly, can cause harm to the patient,” Jim McKinney, a spokesperson for the agency, told TODAY in a statement.

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