An Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) study has found that gargle lavage may be used as an alternative to nasal and throat swabs for sample collection to detect the presence of SARS CoV2, news agency ANI reported.
The primary objective of the study was to check the efficacy of gargle lavage as an alternative and to assess the patient acceptability of the two sampling methods.
In a statement, the medical body said the adoption of gargle lavage for sample collection will have a significant impact, will allow easy self-collection and prove to be a relief for healthcare workers. It will also help in substantial cost savings by reducing the need for swabs and personal protective equipment.
The researchers had conducted the method among 50 COVID patients at AIIMS hospital in Delhi in May and June, with a throat or nose swab and a gargle sample taken from each patient.
"All gargle samples were positive and comparable to their corresponding swab samples irrespective of the symptoms and duration of illness,'' ICMR said.
Seventy-two per cent of the patients reported moderate-to-severe discomfort with swab collection in comparison to 24 per cent reporting only mild discomfort with gargle collection. Gargle is an easy-to-perform procedure and can be performed by the patients themselves.
In order to minimize the risk of transmission due to aerosols and to maximize the benefits of this method of collection, the home collection should be encouraged, the report suggested. However, this method is not feasible for patients who are severely ill as well as young children.
According to ICMR, swab collection does have several drawbacks as it requires training, exposes the healthcare workers to the virus-containing aerosols and has poor patient acceptability and is resource-intensive, the report read.
The use of gargle specimens is not new, but there is little published information on the suitability of gargle specimens to diagnose SARS- CoV-2 infection.
A study conducted in Germany stated that the method was utilised for testing of healthcare workers for COVID-19. They tested 924 of them and reportedly saved 225 PPEs and 1,000 swabs.
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