It’s a trend sweeping across social media, #SwabYourThroat.

It’s based off an anecdotal experiment: swabbing the nose and then separately the throat with an at-home rapid COVID-19 antigen test kit. 

In some cases, those tests appear to produce contradicting results. 

What You Need To Know

  • There is debate amongst health experts if throat swabs are more accurate at detecting omicron

  • Social media users are using separate at home antigen test kits to swab their nose and throat, which appear to produce contradicting results sometimes

  • The FDA is warning against unauthorized throat swabs

"TikTok told me if you swab the nose and it is negative, but you have omicron symptoms, like a soar throat, to swab the throat. Well, I guess TikTok doesn’t lie,” explained one user who posted a video to the popular social media platform.

So is a positive result from a throat swab an accurate indicator of a confirmed COVID-19 case?

We asked Dr. David Goldberg, an infectious disease specialist with NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group.

"If it is positive, you probably have COVID,” Dr. Goldberg explained.

But Dr. Goldberg says he does not recommend using nasal swab tests for a throat sample. 

He says if you are symptomatic and testing negative with a nose swab you should get a PCR test. 

If that is not possible, he suggests beginning isolation.

"If it specifically says only intended for the nose, then that is what you should do,” Dr. Goldberg added.

As throat swabs have been getting more attention on social media, and the efficacy of take-home tests is debated, some other medical experts are endorsing throat swabs. 

Dr. Michael Mina, the chief Science Officer of eMed, an at-home COVID test company, tweeted "Throat swab + nasal may improve chances a swab picks up virus."

Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist at the Federation of American Scientists, tweeted "#Omicron is very different from all other variants. We need to adapt to changing testing strategies."

Dr. Goldberg says, "Omicron particularly favors the throat and the nasal cavity both. I have never seen any data indicating that it favors one or the other."

Like Dr. Goldberg, the Food and Drug Administration warns against unauthorized throat swabs, saying they should be collected by a trained health care provider.

But for some, it seems to have been useful in detecting COVID-19.