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Omicron testing: Are throat swabs better at detecting the COVID-19 variant than rapid tests?
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There is a growing debate on whether people testing for omicron should swab their throats.
Most people in the U.S. have been doing COVID-19 rapid tests with nasal swabs. That is what the Food and Drug Administration endorses and what rapid tests sold in the U.S. instruct.
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But some scientists say a throat swab may be more effective at detecting omicron. Some are calling on the FDA and test manufacturers to better study throat swabs, saying that the reliance on nasal swabs may be one reason why rapid tests seem to be less sensitive in detecting omicron than previous variants.
Many consumers also are agitating, sometimes after finding that a throat swab yielded a positive test result when a nasal swab didn’t. On social media, the #swabyourthroat hashtag is gaining popularity. Some people are swabbing both their nose and throat in hopes of increasing their chances of getting an accurate result.
The FDA warns that rapid antigen tests should be used in the nose as instructed, and took to social media last week to plead: "Please don’t go sticking that #COVID19 testing swab down your throat. Use swabs as instructed: via the nose."