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Alternative testing for COVID-19

Help us look at easier, faster and more comfortable ways to test for COVID-19.

The HSE, UCD's National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL) and UCC's School of Microbiology are looking at other ways to test people for COVID-19.

How the current test works 

The current test involves swabbing the back of the nose and throat. We use a long cotton bud called a swab to collect the sample. We put the swab into one of your nostrils to reach the very back of your nose. We put the throat swab into the very back of your throat. This may be uncomfortable for some people.

The test in some other countries involves swabbing the front of your nose and collecting your saliva in a test tube or on a sponge. This may be a more comfortable way to get tested. But we need to compare them to make sure it is as reliable as the current method.

How you can help with testing

To accurately compare these methods, all samples (current and other methods) will need to be taken from the participant at the same time.

You may be asked to take part in this project when you are getting tested for coronavirus. This is voluntary.

 If you choose not to take part, we will take samples using the current test method only.

 If you want to take part in this project, we will use the current method and also take 2 extra samples.

These extra samples will be a:

  • swab from the front of your nose
  • sample of your saliva

If you want to take part you will need to fill out a consent form supplied to you at the testing site.

Your test results

We will test your nose and throat samples as usual. If we don’t find the virus, we will text to tell you that COVID-19 was not detected.

If you test positive a contact tracer or a public health doctor will call you. They will tell you what to do next.

We will also test the other samples we took from you to find out if they match up with your positive result. All positive samples are very helpful for testing the reliability of the new testing method.

Read more about coronavirus test results.

What happens next

If this project goes well, we may use these alternative tests in future. They can be more comfortable tests for people.

For more information, contact the COVID-19 helpline.