Infection. 2021 May 10:1-8. doi: 10.1007/s15010-021-01614-9. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: To evaluate the diagnostic reliability and practicability of self-collected oropharyngeal swab samples for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 infection as self-sampling could enable broader testing availability and reduce both personal protective equipment and potential exposure.
METHODS: Hospitalized SARS-CoV-2-infected patients were asked to collect two oropharyngeal swabs (SC-OPS1/2), and an additional oropharyngeal swab was collected by a health care professional (HCP-OPS). SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing for samples from 58 participants was performed, with a 48-h delay in half of the self-collected samples (SC-OPS2). The sensitivity, probability of concordance, and interrater reliability were calculated. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to assess predictive factors. Practicability was evaluated through a questionnaire.
RESULTS: The test sensitivity for HCP-OPS, SC-OPS1, and SC-OPS2 was 88%, 78%, and 77%, respectively. Combining both SC-OPS results increased the estimated sensitivity to 88%. The concordance probability between HCP-OPS and SC-OPS1 was 77.6% and 82.5% between SC-OPS1 and SC-OPS2, respectively. Of the participants, 69% affirmed performing future self-sampling at home, and 34% preferred self-sampling over HCP-guided testing. Participants with both positive HCP-OPS1 and SC-OPS1 indicating no challenges during self-sampling had more differences in viral load levels between HCP-OPS1 and SC-OPS1 than those who indicated challenges. Increasing disease duration and the presence of anti-SARS-CoV-2-IgG correlated with negative test results in self-collected samples of previously confirmed SARS-CoV-2 positive individuals.
CONCLUSION: Oropharyngeal self-sampling is an applicable testing approach for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics. Self-sampling tends to be more effective in early versus late infection and symptom onset, and the collection of two distinct samples is recommended to maintain high test sensitivity.