Is self-swabbing safe? Conversations float as Robin Padilla does self-antigen swab

May 25, 2021 - 3:42 PM
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Robin Padilla doing an antigen swab test on his own in a screengrab from his video uploaded on his Facebook page on May 23, 2021. (Screengrab via Facebook/Robin Padilla)

Conversations on self-swabbing for COVID-19 surfaced on local social media after actor Robin Padilla shared a video of him doing a nasal swab due to the alleged unavailability of a healthcare worker.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, the actor narrated how he and his companions ended up swabbing themselves. He credited “Pareng Kiko” for the antigen test kit.

“6 ng umaga mag-umpisa na kami ng trabaho pero wala pa ang nurse. Hindi dahilan sa mga mandaragat ang walang nurse, kailangan isagawa ang (COVID-19) test,” Robin wrote.

“Basta isaksak mo ang swab stick hanggang sa dulo at makiliti mo ang utak mo, at kapag naluha ka na, tsaka mo iikot ng 5 hanggang 8 segundo, ‘yun na raw ‘yun,” he claimed.

 

Some Filipinos questioned Robin’s initiative as swab tests are usually done by healthcare workers in the country.

“Swabbing should be done by a trained personnel or at least (witness) how it was done,” a social media user from Twitter wrote in response to reports.

“Kung sino pang walang alam sa anatomy, sila pa talaga ‘yung nagkakalat ng misleading informations sa mga tao e,” another Filipino wrote.

Others commented that the initiative is already being done in other countries like the United States and the United Kingdom.

“I don’t know what’s the issue. Everyone should know how to do swab test by now. Here, LFD tests are sent to houses for the residents to be able to do their own swab tests. Mabuti nga at natuto mag-swab test,” a Twitter user said.

LFD test is short for the COVID-19 lateral flow device (LFD) technology which is being used in the United Kingdom for people who do not have symptoms.

Another Twitter user, identifying as a nursing student, claimed that he did an RT-PCR swab test by himself before traveling to the US.

“They usually give you instructions naman or pinapanood ka nila while ginagawa ‘yun para i-correct kung ‘di mo napasok deep enough,” he wrote.

Antigen-based tests detect proteins made by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and not the virus itself, unlike the RT-PCR test.

Foreign experts believe that one should know how to test oneself for the virus as it is a starting point to identify possible new cases.

However, its widespread use could bring about concerns on accuracy since health professionals are not involved in collecting the samples or interpreting the results.

Some test kit makers have released videos to help guide the public on how to properly conduct a swab test on their own.

The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care likewise shared a general guide on how to do a rapid antigen test solo.

 

A Medical News Today article cautions that home-testing may not be suitable for individuals who are considered high-risk like those with chronic diseases or smokers.

“In these cases, individuals should consider contacting their doctor as soon as they experience symptoms,” it said.

In the Philippines, swab tests are being done by healthcare workers and individuals who are trained to conduct such COVID-19 detection. The local health authorities have not yet issued a directive allowing self-swabbing of citizens.