Adoption of gargle lavage for sample collection will lead to substantial cost savings by reducing the need for swabs and personal protective equipment
Guwahati: Gargled water may be a feasible alternative to swab sample for COVID-19 detection, said a study published by the Indian Council for Medical Reseach (ICMR).
This will enable an easy way of self-collecting sample for COVID-19 testing, hence, relieving healthcare workers, and also lead to substantial cost savings by reducing the need to train health workers, reduce requirement for swabs and personal protective equipment.
The primary objective of the study was to assess agreement between gargle lavage and swab as a viable alternative for detection of SARS-CoV-2, and the secondary objective was to assess the patient acceptability of the two sampling methods.
According to reports, top researchers at ICMR conducted a cross-sectional study at AIIMS hospital in Delhi from May-June on 50 COVID-19 patients. They found that all gargle samples were positive and comparable to their corresponding swab samples irrespective of severity of symptoms and duration of illness.
Meanwhile, in terms of patient acceptability, majority (72%) of the patients reported moderate to severe discomfort with swab collection in comparison to 24% reporting only mild discomfort with gargle collection.
However, there are certain limitations to the method as to minimize the risk of transmission due to aerosols and to maximize the benefits, it would be best to employ it for home collection. Further, gargle sample cannot be used in patients who are critically ill as well as in young children/patients who may not be able to follow instructions/perform gargle, noted the study.
Though gargle collections seems to reduce the resource intensive method of swab collection, but currently, there is little published information on the suitability of gargle specimens to diagnose SARS- CoV-2 infection, underscored the study.