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Israeli health chief: Swab throat as well as nose to detect Omicron variant

People self-testing for COVID-19 should swab their throat as well as their nose when using rapid antigen kits, to increase the chances of detecting the Omicron variant, a top Israeli health official said this past Monday (10 January).

Her recommendation goes against the advice of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has said manufacturers’ instructions should still be followed and that any incorrect use of throat swabs could pose a safety risk, reports Reuters.

On Israeli Army Radio, epidemiologist Sharon Alroy-Preis, Israel’s public health chief, said antigen tests, used widely in the country, are less sensitive than PCR tests in detecting illness.

“To increase their sensitivity, from now on we recommend swabbing the throat and the nose. It’s not what the manufacturer instructs but we are instructing this,” she said.

With Omicron pushing daily infection cases to record highs, Israel’s testing centres have been struggling, prompting health officials to prioritise risk groups for PCR testing and trust younger, vaccinated people to test at home if exposed to a carrier.


Reuters article – Swab throat too when using rapid COVID test, Israel's Health Ministry says (Open access)


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