Q: I’ve heard that some colleges are testing wastewater from dorms to find out if there is Covid. Does this mean there could be accurate(ish) home fecal tests in our future? I can’t decide if I want the answer to be yes or no.
A. The Nerdy Girls support innovation, accuracy, affordability, and accessibility.
And yet… Home poop tests are not high on the list of likely strategies to get us out of this pandemic.
Here are some facts you may find relevant:
1.) ANAL SWABBING AND POOP TESTING IN CHINA: China is using anal swabbing and fecal testing to identify COVID-19 infection. These tests may offer more accurate identification of infection than nasal and throat swabs because the virus is present in fecal matter even after it clears the lungs. This type of test may be useful among asymptomatic individuals, children, and babies. Perhaps not surprisingly, there’s pushback from people who think the test is too invasive.
2.) SEWAGE TESTING IN THE US: Institutions with communal living (e.g., college dormitories) are using wastewater sampling to identify changes in COVID-19 infection rates over time. These strategies allow for non-invasive and cost-efficient testing of populations. We covered this topic here.
3.) HOME-BASED TESTING OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE. Home-based testing options are in development, but they aren’t widespread yet. Most of these tests rely upon saliva samples, not fecal samples.
And… that’s the scoop on COVID poop.