There might be a new viable testing method for COVID-19 on the way—one that doesn’t involve sticking a cotton swab up your nose. A team of researchers at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England developed a COVID-19 test that involves noninvasive skin swabbing, Fast Company reports.
Published by Lancet E Clinical Medicine, the study saw researchers test for the virus by measuring the skin lipid levels of 67 patients. They used gauze swabs to procure sebum samples from the group, 30 of whom were positive for coronavirus and 37 who were negative. Sebum, which is created by the skin, is an oily substance made of lipids. Researchers found that patients who were positive had lower lipid levels.
While a sample size of 67 patients might appear to not be enough to dictate the testing method’s efficacy, it seems that it was enough to check for initial viability. Additionally, skin-swab tests are advantageous since sebum samples can be moved and administered rapidly and painlessly, according to the report.
“Unfortunately, the spectre of future pandemics is firmly on the top of the agenda for the scientific community,” the University of Surrey’s Dr.Melanie Bailey, who is a co-author of the study said. “Our study suggests that we may be able to use non-invasive means to test for diseases such as COVID-19 in the future – a development which I am sure will be welcomed by all.”
Currently, two types of COVID tests exist, molecular tests and antigen tests, which involve swabbing a person’s nose or throat.