When it comes to new innovations to combat the coronavirus pandemic, vaccines have certainly stolen the spotlight away from tests.
But that doesn't mean that there aren't new-and-improved ways to test for COVID-19 rolling out. Just take health authorities in Beijing, China, who have started to use anal swabs to probe for signs of the coronavirus, according to Gizmodo.
The Chinese government seems to be ramping up mass testing after the highly-infectious B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus appeared in the country. Li Tongzeng, head of infectious disease at Beijing's You'an Hospital, says that the anal swabs give more accurate results than the far-more-convenient nasal swabs. Li told the state-run Global Times that the virus survives for longer in the anus than the respiratory system, making it a prime location for doctors to look.
Li said the anal swabs were being used in a limited capacity, but South China Morning Post reports that over 1,200 people were tested with them at a school in Beijing, suggesting that it's a more widespread practice than Li let on.
The testing seems to have spread to other cities as well, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports. Health officials in other cities including Guangzhou and Tangshan are also administering the ten-second tests to patients who later posted on social media about how they felt "endless shame" or that the tests were "a bit embarrassing."
Meanwhile, other health experts push back on Li's assertion that the anal swab is more accurate than nasal swabs, according to the ABC. They cite limited evidence that the respiratory disease COVID-19 would be more prevalent in a patient's digestive system than their respiratory tract.
"I’m not quite sure what they’re trying to achieve here with all the anal swabs," Dr. Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious diseases expert at the Australian National University, told the ABC.
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READ MORE: China Deploys Anal Swabs for Covid-19 Testing, Says It's More Accurate [Gizmodo]
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