Social media posts have falsely disseminated that the COVID-19 swab or swab test can harm the brain. Specialists explain why that is highly unlikely
Can covid-19 testing swab damage the brain?
Without any basis, some social media posts speak of a alleged breakdown of the “blood brain barrier” when taking tissue samples in a coronavirus test.
The evidence is clear: a hyssop used in this way can’t harm the brain and there is a misunderstanding of how that test is performed.
The brain has many layers of protection. The first and most obvious is the skull. Inside it, the brain is enclosed in a protective membrane and fluid.
In the blood vessels that line the brain, the blood-brain barrier is a very compact layer of cells.
Its function is to prevent the molecules that circulate in the blood from passing to the brain, while allowing oxygen and nutrients to enter.
A swab or stick inserted into the nose would need to break multiple layers of tissue and pierce a bone and blood vessels to reach the blood-brain barrier.
“We have not seen no complication of covid swabs in our neurology practice, ”says Dr Liz Coulthard, committee member of the British Neuroscience Association.
The nasopharyngeal swab looks for the presence of coronavirus at the back of the nasal passage. It is one of several smear or scraping techniques.
“I did the swabbing of many patients while working in the hospital and I also get swabs every week as a volunteer in a trial. It is unusual to have something so deep in the nose: the swab can be itchy or ticklish, but it should not be painful, ”says Dr. Tom Wingfield of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
The same graph appears in publications in Spanish, French, Dutch and Portuguese, each of which generates thousands of forwardings.
“Why not just breathe on the swab?”
Another similar post questioned: “If the covid is really in the breath, why can’t you just breathe on the swab? ¿Why do they have to push the swab all the way down from your nose? “
Thousands of people have shared it on Facebook and Instagram.
The coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes small droplets, filled with the virus.
However, this does not mean he just breathing on a swab will offer enough material to perform a laboratory test.
We talked to England Public Health about this. They said to take a swab from inside your nose or throat produces more accurate results.
If you only breathe on a thin hyssop head, may not catch viral particles or the cells that carry the virus.
However, if it is inserted into the nose and throat and rotated to the site of possible infection, infectious material is more likely to result in a result.
Test kits do not infect
Other publications have used press reports of contaminated test kits to make people believe that getting a test can result in a spread of the coronavirus.
Actually newspaper headlines like The Washington Post refer to a test report ineffective caused by sloppy laboratory practices at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the start of the pandemic.
This does not mean that being examined will lead to a spread of the virus.
In a post shared more than 3,000 times on Facebook this week, a fan page by Fox News host Tucker Carlson shared an article.
Do you want covid-19? This is how you get it! ”He said in relation to a report on contaminated kits.
But the article of The Washington Post, which was released in June, details a federal review that found faulty laboratory procedures and tests caused delays in the implementation of the CDC test program.
It does not suggest that the faulty kits could have transmitted the virus to any patient.
A full subscription is required to read the full article, which means many people would read the headline out of context.
Data verifiers have denied previous claims that the coronavirus test is part of a plan funded by the Gates Foundation to implement a microchip in patients.
However, this has been shared thousands of times on Facebook, as have similar theories about a sinister microchip implantation program linked to a possible vaccine.
No evidence suggesting such a scheme exists and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has denied the claims.
*With the collaboration of Olga Robinson and Shayan Sardarizadeh.