New COVID-19 self-collect option
|Self-collected samples validated, involving patients across NSW and QLD||DHM has introduced the use of self-collected swabs for COVID-19 and respiratory viruses||DHM’s self-collect swabs are now available for doctors to order via our Stores Department (D01499)|
Self-collect swabs are now available which allow patients to perform specimen collection themselves in the comfort of their own home. The COVID-19 self-collection option contains easy-to follow patient instructions, together with the required swab for both throat and nasal specimen collection. An animated instructional ‘how-to’ video is available on our website to assist patients in completing the self-collect procedure. Once the patient has completed the collection, they simply return the specimen and request form to a dedicated DHM COVID-19 collection centre or drop-off location.
COVID-19 self-collection offer additional convenience and flexibility for doctors and patients alike, as well as being an important means of containing the transmissibility of the virus to others. It also conserves stock of personal protective equipment (PPE), which is a critical consideration in the current climate.
DHM has validated self-collected swabs against swabs taken by a pathology collector. Both methods provide the same results.
Self-collected swabs will be offered in addition to doctor collection of swabs taken within medical practices or at one of DHM’s dedicated COVID-19 only facilities.
Self-collect swabs now available to order
DHM’s COVID-19 self-collect swabs can be ordered from our Stores Department (Order code D01499). The COVID-19 self-collection option contains easy-to-follow patient instructions and the required swab, for both throat and nasal specimen collection.
The COVID-19 global pandemic is now well-established and constantly evolving, as are the challenges it presents. Case definitions have changed, testing criteria have expanded and, most recently, there has been enforcement of restrictions on travel, self-isolation requirements and size of social gatherings. The focus has moved from containment to mitigation of community transmission.
DHM has now tested more than 30,000 COVID-19 specimens. Expanded testing criteria1 mean that doctors now have greater discretion in the ordering of COVID-19 testing (for which there is now a Medicare rebate) and, as a consequence, we anticipate an increase in the number of tests being ordered. Increased demand leads to a commensurate reduction in the availability of PPE and this represents a potential limitation on specimen collection and testing. Self-collected swabs for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus which causes COVID-19) and respiratory viruses may provide the solution to this problem.
Validation of self-collected swab specimens
Every assay is validated for use with a limited range of specimen types and if it is intended that another type of specimen be used, that specimen must first be validated. DHM has completed a validation study, confirming that patient-collected throat and nasal swabs, when tested in the COVID-19 assay, give the same results as specimens collected by a DHM pathology collector. Ongoing comparison of healthcare worker (HCW) collection versus self-collection has supported our initial validation. A summary of the results is provided (see Table 1).
It is important to emphasise that self-collected specimens are only suitable for testing if there is validation data to support their use. DHM has confirmed the validity of testing self-collected throat and nasal swabs in their assay to diagnose COVID-19.