UArizona scientists came up with alternative to nasal swab test for COVID-19

An Arizona study may simplify the way health officials test for the coronavirus by using a simple mouth wash.

Scientists at the University of Arizona have come up with an easy alternative to the uncomfortable nasal swab test. They’ve been conducting a study on a gargle test, where patients just swish with a saltwater rinse and gargle. The sample then goes to the lab, where a PCR Test is performed.

Researchers say it’s less invasive than the nasal swab test, and appears to be more accurate.

'Turns out this gargling seems to get more virus in the sample than a saliva test," said Michael Worobey with UArizona's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. "We’re picking up about 20% more infections with the mouth rinse method, compared to the nasal method."

The saline mouth rinse test is on its way to becoming the main method of collecting samples on the UArizona campus, researchers say. If it becomes widespread, it could encourage more testing.

"I think this test takes away one of the obstacles," said Worobey. "People don’t like the nasal swab in their nose."

Researchers say the mouth rinse test is safer for health care workers as well, since people can collect their own samples instead of having a worker administer the test for them.