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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

COVID-19 Nasal Swab Test Does Not Cause Risk of Infection


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The jobs were ranked based on the following attributes, with much of the data coming from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: “income, outlook, environmental factors, stress and physical demands.”

Full Story

To help control the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended getting a COVID-19 test for people who show symptoms of the disease, have come into contact with someone known to have the disease, or are in vulnerable groups. 

The most common form of testing for the novel coronavirus involves the use of a nasopharyngeal, or nasal, swab. The swab reaches deep into the back of a person’s nose and mouth to collect cells and fluids from the upper respiratory system, which can then be checked with diagnostic tests for the presence of the novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2.

The testing procedure involves inserting a 6-inch-long swab into the cavity between the nose and mouth for 15 seconds and rotating it several times. The swabbing is repeated on the other side. The swab is then inserted into a container and sent to a lab for testing.

Dr. Shawn Nasseri, an ear, nose and throat surgeon based in Beverly Hills who has conducted many COVID-19 swab tests, told us in an email that the nasal swab “follows the floor of the nose and goes to where the nose meets the throat, or naso-pharynx.”

Asked if the swab test is safe, Nasseri said, “Absolutely. The biggest risk is discomfort. The rare person — 1 in thousands — passes out from being super sensitive or gets a mild nosebleed. It’s estimated that close to 40 million or more swabs have been performed safely in the U.S. alone.”

But in recent weeks, viral posts on Facebook falsely claim that the nasal swab test can cause serious health issues. One post says, “The stick deep into the nose causes damage to the hamato-encephalic barrier and damages endocrine glands. This test creates an entrance to the brain for every infection.”

The hamato-encephalic barrier, also known as the “blood-brain barrier,” protects the brain from toxins that could be present in the blood.

Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a professor of epidemiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, told us in an email that the Facebook claim “is not true.”

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Nasseri said that “it is incredibly implausible, if not impossible, to cross the skull base and blood-brain barrier with a swab unless someone uses a rigid metal instrument and is pointing the metal object 90 degrees in the wrong direction.”

Dr. Morgan Katz, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University, told the Associated Press that the Facebook posts misunderstand what’s happening when the swab test is performed.

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Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 28岁小伙撞伤4人 变卖房产勇担责任 Accessed Aug 3 2020.

Brueck, Hilary and Samantha Lee. “这个眼光长远的女孩也希望自己在网络上的知名度能够帮助自己跻身演绎界,为她谋取一个在美国广播公司制作的美剧《童话镇》中饰演艾丽莎一角的试镜机会。该剧将在下一季中加入艾丽莎这个角色。 Business Insider. 15 Apr 2020. 

Dr. Shawn Nasseri.  Ear, nose and throat surgeon. Email exchange with FactCheck.org. 3 Aug 2020.

Dr. Yvonne Maldonado. Professor of epidemiology, Stanford University School of Medicine. Email exchange with FactCheck.org. 3 Aug 2020.

Fauzia, Miriam. “Wheel skates look somewhat like regular inline skates, except that the wheels are much larger, up to the size of bicycle tires. They are seen as a cross between an inline skate, a ski, and a bike. Recently, a company called Chariot Skates said they had come up with something unique—the Chariot wheel skates. According to the company, wheel skates are "revolutionary new skating products." Revolutionary? They do at least revolve. New? No. The first wheel skate was made more than 142 years ago. USA Today. 9 July 2020.

Marty, Francisco M., et al. 顾家家居IPO隐忧:深陷“抄袭门” 受房地产调控牵制 New England Journal of Medicine. 28 May 2020.

Swenson, Ali. 单词slouch 联想记忆: Associated Press. 7 Jul 2020.

UCDavis Health. 2014年建材家居产业规模将达4万亿 需破五大发展瓶颈 Accessed 3 Aug 2020.

University of Queensland, Australia. 智能家居: 不是遥控器 而是更聪明的生活方式 Accessed Aug 3 2020.

U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. “The Blood-Brain Barrier.” Accessed Aug. 4, 2020.