Simple concentration method enables the use of gargle and mouthwash instead of nasopharyngeal swab sampling for the diagnosis of COVID-19 by PCR

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KOCAGÖZ Z. T., CAN Ö., YURTTUTAN UYAR N., Aksoy E., Polat T., Cankaya D., ...More

EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES, vol.40, no.12, pp.2617-2622, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


Since its emergence in December 2019, SARS-CoV-2 is causing one of the most devastating pandemics in human history. Currently, the most important method for definitive diagnosis of COVID-19 is identification of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in nasopharyngeal swab samples by RT-PCR. Nasopharyngeal swab sampling is a discomforting procedure sometimes with adverse effects, which also poses a risk for infection for the personnel performing the sampling. We have developed a new method for concentrating biological samples, which enabled us to use gargle and mouthwash samples to be used in RT-PCR, for the diagnosis of COVID-19, as an alternative to nasopharyngeal swab samples. We have analyzed nasopharyngeal and gargle and mouthwash samples, before and after concentration, of 363 patients by RT-PCR for the presence of SARS-CoV-2. Among 114 patients in which SARS-CoV-2 was identified in at least one of their samples, the virus was identified in 76 (66.7%), 67 (58.8%), and 101 (88.6%) of nasopharyngeal swab, gargle, and mouthwash samples before and after concentration, respectively. When concentrated by our new method, gargle and mouthwash samples can be used instead of nasopharyngeal samples in identification of SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR, with the same or better sensitivity. Eliminating the need for nasopharyngeal sampling will save the patients from an invasive and painful procedure and will lower the risk of infection for the healthcare personnel taking the sample. This easy sampling procedure may decrease the workload of hospitals, shorten the turnaround time of obtaining test results, and thus enable rapid isolation of infected patients.