When mishandled, that funny cotton swab that has been in your nostrils for over a year could prove to be dangerous. Nasopharyngeal swabs, a process used to detect Covid-19 patients, are not “Not without risk”, warned the Academy of Medicine Thursday, April 8. These samples, operated with a swab, have become “The reference method”, whether for PCR tests or antigenic tests, the result of which is faster, underlines the Academy in a press release.
In front of “The multiplication and repetition of samples, sometimes carried out under unsuitable conditions”, the Academy of Medicine recalls “The precautions to be observed and the risks incurred”.
Because, if most of the samples are benign, “Inconvenience, pain or bleeding, serious complications have started to be described in the medical literature for a few weeks, in particular breaches of the anterior level of the base of the skull associated with a risk of meningitis”, continues the scientific college, citing several recently published studies.
The Academy therefore recommends reserving the performance of these tests “To trained health professionals” and recommends that they inquire about any ENT history before proceeding. She also recommends giving preference to saliva samples for children.
Warning against future self-tests
Some 70 million tests were performed between 1is March 2020 and April 4, 2021 (57.7 million PCRs and 12.4 antigens), according to an estimate from the DREES, the directorate of research, studies, evaluation and statistics. And the numbers are soaring. For the week of March 29 to April 4, 2021 alone, 3.8 million PCR and antigen test results were validated.
She also warns against the use of self-tests, which must arrive in pharmacies from April 12. These don’t require as deep a sample as the others, but the Academy recommends alerting users that “Self-sampling can expose you to false negatives when the swab is too timid and superficial, but can also become dangerous when the swab is too deep and pointed in the wrong direction. “
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