DOH: Anal swabbing for COVID-19 inconvenient, needs validation if proposed in PH

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 29 2021 02:34 PM

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MANILA — The Department of Health said Friday it is not keen on using anal swabs to get specimen for COVID-19 testing because of its inconvenience.

“Kung kami po ang tatanungin sa Department of Health kung talagang kakailanganin at makikita with sufficient evidence na ito naman po ay talagang makapag-yield ng accurate results also, pag-iisipan pong maigi ng gobyerno 'yan. Kasi as we say it is really inconvenient for both the individuals and the health workers,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing. 

(If we at the Department of Health are asked, if it’s really needed and there is sufficient evidence showing that it has accurate results, then the government will really think about it. Because as we say it is really inconvenient for both the individuals and the health workers.)

Vergeire acknowledged that there are articles claiming that the virus may linger in the anus longer than the respiratory tract or that it is in fecal matter, hence viable for testing.

But she said the technology of anal swabbing will still have to undergo validation with the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and be approved for registration with the Food and Drug Administration if it is brought into the country.

Anal swabbing is now being done in some Chinese cities. It serves as an alternative to throat swabs or saliva samples, which is partially being used in the Philippines.

On social media, Chinese netizens reacted negatively to the process, saying it is “low harm, but extreme humiliation.”