PCR mouthwash is the newest method for diagnosing COVID-19. Compared to PCR swab, PCR mouthwash is more convenient to do because it does not hurt. However, how does it work and how effective is PCR mouthwash? Check out the answer in the following article.
There are three types of COVID-19 tests used in Indonesia, namely PCR, antigen swab, and antibody rapid test. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) can detect viral genetic material (DNA or RNA), antigen swabs can detect certain proteins in viruses, while antibody rapid tests detect antibodies against the Corona virus.
So far, the PCR test is the standard test to diagnose or detect COVID-19. This test uses a sample of phlegm or mucus taken from the nasopharynx (the passage between the nose and throat) and oropharynx (the back of the throat) for analysis using PCR in a laboratory.
When sampling, some people may complain of pain and discomfort due to the swab process (swab) nose and throat give a sensation of being poked. Therefore, a new breakthrough for the PCR test has emerged using saliva samples taken by gargling and salivary PCR.
Understanding and How PCR Gargle Works
PCR mouthwash or PCR gargle is an examination to detect the Corona virus in the body that is taken by gargling samples. The sampling method for the PCR test in this way aims to make patients feel more comfortable, especially children and the elderly.
In addition to providing a sense of comfort, PCR mouthwash is also expected to be carried out in non-medical areas under the supervision of health workers, so as to reduce crowds and avoid direct contact.
The sampling process using the PCR method is also considered more practical and does not need to involve a lot of medical personnel. The following is how to take a PCR mouthwash sample:
- First, the medical officer will give a saline solution (saline) to rinse.
- Next, the patient will be asked to rinse his mouth with the saline solution for 45 seconds.
- Samples of saliva (saliva) from gargling will be put into a tube that has been provided by a health worker.
Furthermore, the PCR mouthwash sample will be taken to the laboratory to be tested using the PCR technique. The technique used is the same as the PCR test using samples swab nasopharynx-oropharynx.
The sample will be tested using special chemicals and a PCR machine called thermal cycler. This chemical will produce a fluorescent light if the Corona virus is detected. This is what indicates a positive PCR test result in COVID-19 sufferers.
To improve the accuracy or precision of test results, there are several things that you should avoid at least 30 minutes before carrying out a COVID-19 test using the PCR mouthwash method, namely:
- Eat and drink
- Using mouthwash
- Brushing teeth
- Chewing gum
- Smoking, both tobacco cigarettes and vaping
Although more convenient than a nose and throat swab test, PCR mouthwash is not a good option for people with low saliva production, such as people with stroke or dry mouth.
The Effectiveness of PCR Mouthwash in Detecting COVID-19
So far, PCR mouthwash has been developed by Biofarma as a state-owned company engaged in the pharmaceutical sector. According to research, this method is quite effective for detecting the Corona virus in the bodies of COVID-19 sufferers with or without symptoms.
The process of developing PCR mouthwash in Indonesia involved more than 400 samples of positive COVID-19 patients, both outpatients and inpatients.
From this study, it was found that the sensitivity of mouthwash PCR reached 93.57 percent, not much different from PCR swab nasopharynx-oropharynx which has a sensitivity of 95 percent. In addition, the PCR mouthwash study in the United States also showed a high sensitivity, which was approximately 95 percent.
However, because mouthwash PCR is still very new, its effectiveness for diagnosing COVID-19 still needs to be researched.
PCR mouthwash has several advantages, including:
- Sampling process is faster and simpler
- It doesn't hurt
- Can be done on children who can rinse their mouth
However, mouthwash PCR has some drawbacks. One of them is that not all laboratories in Indonesia can perform PCR mouthwash tests, especially in remote areas.
PCR swab is still the primary test for diagnosing COVID-19. So, if you feel symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with a positive patient for COVID-19, do the usual PCR examination, namely with swab. If the result is positive, undergo self-isolation and follow strict health protocols.
You can also consult a doctor via chat in the ALODOKTER application to get information about medicines and handling COVID-19 that you can do yourself at home.