As Canadians struggle with excessively long wait times for high-demand Covid-19 tests, officials released a new coronavirus test for school children that gets rid of the invasive nasal swab and instead asks kids to gargle and spit.
The new tests, which the British Columbia Center for Disease Control says is just as accurate as the more common nasal swab tests, doesn’t have to be administered by a health professional, though they are still processed in a lab.
Children gargle a small amount of saline solution for 30 seconds, which sweeps up tissue that may hold virus particles, then spit into a tube, making it easy for children to be tested as schools begin to reopen.
A recent Centers For Disease Control and Prevention report said children with mild or even no symptoms could spread the virus.
Testing sites in Canada have been overwhelmed in recent weeks, with some reporting 6-hour-long wait times and others turning people away, in part because classes across the country are restarting.
The test is only for children, but may be expanded to adults in the coming weeks, which could ease the country’s overwhelmed testing and processing facilities.
A similar gargle test studied at the Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg in Germany in July was successful in detecting small amounts of the coronavirus using mass spectrometry, especially in the early stages of the disease. The test, researchers said, takes about 15 minutes.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency-use approval last month for a five dollar credit card sized, rapid-response Covid-19 test made by Abbott Laboratories, which could help to meet the need to ramp up testing to contain the disease in the U.S.
Processing the massive influx of coronavirus has been a problem since the beginning of the pandemic. In July, a vice president of one of the largest laboratory companies in the U.S., Quest Diagnostics, said it would be impossible to keep up with Covid-19 testing demands once flu season hit in the fall. There have been reported backlogs in test processing from the U.K. to India to the U.S. Health experts have said increased testing is one of the best ways to ensure the virus is contained.