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


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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.”

夏奇拉
While newcomer to the list Ariel Foxman, who was appointed managing editor at Time Inc.’s In Style in September 2008, isn’t a regular on a television show as of yet, his fashion director Hal Rubenstein is now a judge onLifetime’s Blush: The Search for the Next Great Make-up Artist. And Foxman’s publication led the way in number of advertising pages, boasting over 1,000 during the first half of 2009.

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. 家居产业(北京)十大品牌景气报告发布 Accessed Aug 3 2020.

Brueck, Hilary and Samantha Lee. “单词pressure 联想记忆: 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. “It’s no surprise that credit is “pro-cyclical.” When asset prices are booming, optimistic lenders tend to make more loans and often feed the euphoria. When markets sink, lenders rein in risk and sometimes make the downturn worse. USA Today. 9 July 2020.

Marty, Francisco M., et al. 拆迁补偿成部分公司增厚业绩利器 New England Journal of Medicine. 28 May 2020.

Swenson, Ali. One of the highest-paid Bollywood actresses, Deepika Padukone hold the third position in the list of 10 most beautiful women of 2015. She is considered a sex symbol and style icon in India. Padukone ranks high on various listings of the most attractive Indian women. She is cited by her figure, height, smile, and eyes as her distinctive physical features. She is an active celebrity endorser for several brands and products, including Tissot, Sony Cyber-shot, Nescafe, Vogue eyewear, Maybelline and Pepsi, among others. Associated Press. 7 Jul 2020.

UCDavis Health. “人才新政”须防跑偏 Accessed 3 Aug 2020.

University of Queensland, Australia. 生态建材:培育中国建材产业的光荣“富二代” Accessed Aug 3 2020.

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