Test samples collected by people who swabbed their own nasal passages yielded results for the Covid-19 virus that were as accurate as samples collected by a health care worker, according to a new study.
For the findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the research team picked 30 participants who previously had tested positive for Covid-19.
They collected their own samples at a drive-through testing site after watching a short video animation and reading a one-page document instructing them how to perform the swab.
The nasal swab for the study is more comfortable to use than the long nasopharyngeal swab currently used to collect samples from the back of the nasal cavity.
"There is an urgent need to increase our testing capacity to slow the overall spread of the virus," said study researcher Yvonne Maldonado from the Stanford University in the US.
"A sample collection procedure that can safely and easily be performed by the patient in their own car or at home could reduce the exposure of health care workers and also allow many more people to submit samples for testing," Maldonado added.
According to the researchers, allowing people who suspect they may have Covid-19 to collect their own sample has many advantages
The study participants collected their own specimen by applying a nasal swab to both nostrils.
Then, a physician collected two additional samples using a nasal swab and a swab applied to the back of the throat and the tonsils.
All three samples were tested for the presence of the virus at the Stanford Clinical Virology Laboratory.
Of the 30 participants, 29 received identical results -- either positive or negative for the presence of the virus -- for the three samples.
The findings showed that 11 of the participants was positive, and 18 were negative.
One person''s self-collected swab at the drive-through site revealed the presence of the virus, whereas the two swabs collected by the physician tested negative.
The researchers noted that sample-collection kits could be widely distributed, allowing more people to be tested.