MONDAY, Jan. 10, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Swabs that come with at-home rapid antigen COVID-19 tests should be used in the nose and not the throat, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns.

It issued the warning on Twitter in response to reports that some people are using swabs intended for nasal samples to take samples from their throats and are posting their results on social media with the hashtag #SwabYourThroat. The trend began after early research suggested saliva may be a better way to detect the omicron variant.

“The FDA advises that COVID-19 tests should be used as authorized, including following their instructions for use regarding obtaining the sample for testing,” an FDA spokesperson told CNN. “The FDA has noted safety concerns regarding self-collection of throat swabs, as they are more complicated than nasal swabs — and if used incorrectly, can cause harm to the patient. The CDC recommends that throat swabs be collected by a trained health care provider.”

Throat swabs are common in some countries, but most COVID-19 self-tests in the United States require nasal samples.

It may turn out that throat swabbing is an effective way to gather material for tests, Sten Vermund, M.D., a pediatrician and infectious disease epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health, told CNN. “But that data isn’t there yet.”

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