Omicron throat swab vs nasal swab

What is Omicron?

Omicron variant is the fast spreading variant of COVID 19 concerned by WHO. BA.2 which is referred to as ‘shealth Omicron’ is the dominant strain of COVID-19  and it is a transmissible variant which is not severer than other types of Omicron. But the number of cases has been increasing all round the world. The virus mutating increases while it is circulating widely. The virus was first invented in November, 2021 and it is necessary to follow the advice on preventing the spread of the virus.

This variant causes less severe illness and the death rate is low among the people who are immunised.

Omicron is a VoC, “Variant of Concern” because it has many mutations that haven’t been seen before. 

What are the symptoms of Omicron?

Omicron causes similar symptoms as other variants including  cough, fever and fatigue. But the good news is it  is less likely to cause severe diseases like pneumonia. 

It is advised to be fully vaccinated because there are only mild symptoms otherwise some severe symptoms may appear. 

What is BA.1 and BA.2?

The original omicron variant is BA.1 and the new valiant referred to as BA.2 and it is more transmissible than the original variant. More Young people are mainly affected and to prevent the spreading and to protect yourself getting vaccines on time and masking is more important. 

Effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and Omicron

The potential effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines may vary and it is encouraged to get a booster shot to get extra protection against Omicron.  The vaccines prevent severe illness such as hospitalisation. 

What are the symptoms of Omicron?

  • Sore Throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Dry cough
  • Muscle pain

Many people infected with the new variant had already survived Covid. The risk of reinfection with Omicron is five times higher than other variants. 

What is the best Throat swab or nose swab?

Recent research found that the samples collected in the throat might  detect the virus sample before the nasal swab. This led for more discussions on people to do self tests on throat instead of nasal swabs 

 To get a more sensitive result a combined throat and nose swab is the best to detect Omicron in the early stage of infection.  Researchers found that saliva tests were more sensitive to omicron than nasal swabs because the viral load from an Omicron infection peaked in saliva one to two days before it peaked in nasal swabs. The food and drug administration states that the self-collection of throat swabs is more complicated than nasal swabs. To increase the effectiveness of the detecting COVID-19 it is wise to swab both nose and throat. There are safety concerns when doing self-administered throat swab and it may harm the patient. 

Precautions to take before swab your throat: 

  • Do not drink, eat or brush your teeth- the test is sensitive to acid, it is advised not to eat or drink before taking the sample. 
  • Wash the hands thoroughly before testing
  • Open the mouth wide in front of a mirror and stick out the tongue and you can see a bridge-like surface that extends across the roof of your throat. 
  • Sweep across both tonsils at the top of the very back of mouth. Be sure to avoid the touch the tongue, teeth 
  • Swab both tonsils gently at least four times. 

Then, the swab should insert into  the nose  and gently wipe around the inside of the nostril about three to four times to both nostrils. 

Swab your throat before your nose is really important. Because it prevents anything that may get stuck in your nose down your throat. 

What happens if your throat comes back positive

Swabs from PCR tests can detect the variant causing the infection is Omicron, Delta or other variant. To confirm that it is Omicron needs some time for genetic analysis.

A positive test is probably accurate but a negative test doesn’t always mean you are clear. It is most probably because there may not be enough virus particles for the test. There is very low likelihood to be a false positive. 

This variant is more transmissible for all age groups including both adults and children. 

Why are people interested in throat swab?

According to studies, a regular nasal sample taken in the early stage of infection is less sensitive to Omicron. Therefore a nasal sample is only 68 percent effective in detecting Omicron while combined nasal swab and throat swab gives 82 percent accurate results.

SARS-CoV-2 infects the people through nose and mouth while the virus containing particles travel through air as droplets and transfer among people through surfaces. Omicron prefers the throat and nose while other versions focus on lungs causing serious threats on breathing .

Some of the studies show that the virus might start in the throat and infect the nasal passage meaning swabbing throat provides positive results in people who are infected. 

But FDA has not authorised on at-home self tests with throat swabs since the dangers of sticking a swab near the throat.

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