Self-collection: An appropriate alternative during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic
Wehrhahn, Michael C.
David New, David
Newcombe, James P.
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Objectives: To evaluate the reliability of self-collection for SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses because swab collections for SARS-CoV-2 put health workers at risk of infection and require use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Methods: In a prospective study, patients from two states in Australia attending dedicated COVID-19 collection clinics were offered the option to first self-collect (SC) nasal and throat swabs (SCNT) prior to health worker collect (HC) using throat and nasal swabs (Site 1) or throat and nasopharyngeal swabs (Site 2). Samples were analysed for SARS-CoV-2 as well as common respiratory viruses. Concordance of results between methods was assessed using Cohen's kappa (κ) and Cycle threshold (Ct) values were recorded for all positive results as a surrogate measure for viral load. Results: Of 236 patients sampled by HC and SC, 25 had SARS-CoV-2 (24 by HC and 25 by SC) and 63 had other respiratory viruses (56 by HC and 58 by SC). SC was highly concordant with HC (κ = 0.890) for all viruses including SARS-CoV-2 and more concordant than HC to positive results by any method (κ = 0.959 vs 0.933). Mean SARS-CoV-2 E-gene and N-gene, rhinovirus and parainfluenza Ct values did not differ between HC and SCNT. Conclusions: Self-collection of nasal and throat swabs offers a reliable alternative to health worker collection for the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses and provides patients with easier access to testing, reduces exposure of the community and health workers to those being tested and reduces requirement for PPE.
Link to resourcehttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcv.2020.104417
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