A spokesperson for Alberta Health Services calls the slightly uncomfortable, deep-up-the-nose method “the gold standard for testing for respiratory… [illnesses] like COVID-19.”
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During the height of the pandemic, there was a global shortage of the nasal pharyngeal swabs, Kerry Williamson explained.
So Alberta Precision Laboratories sourced throat swabs to make sure the province could keep up with the demand for testing.
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“Early on in the pandemic, Alberta Precision Laboratories validated and confirmed that a throat sample collected on the appropriate swabs is effective at detecting the virus,” Williamson explained.
The nasal pharyngeal swabs, which collect a sample deeper than a traditional nasal swab, continued to be used in Alberta throughout the pandemic in certain clinical settings, such as transplant, oncology and critical care units.
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But now that the global supply is stabilizing, Williamson said the lab is returning to nasal pharyngeal swabs, “the gold standard for patient collection and testing of respiratory viruses.”
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Alberta labs will use different types of swabs as required, he added, to make sure inventory remains stable.
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