Testing the sensitivity of conjunctival swabs from confirmed covid-19 patients

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Objective: To investigate the incidence of COVID-19 viral RNA in the conjunctiva of patients priorly confirmed to have COVID-19, using a conjunctival swab and to determine swab sensitivity. Methods: This cross-sectional study enrolled patients who tested positive for COVID-19 with PCR via nasopharyngeal swabs. Conjunctival swabs were collected for each patient and subjected to RT-PCR assay. Demographic data and clinical history of patients were investi-gated and analysed. Results: In this study, 4.9% of the patients tested positive with conjunctival swabs for COVID-19; 29.9%, 28.7%, 20.1%, and 12.2% of the patients had fever, shortness of breath, cough, and red eye, respectively. Among all patients, 18.9% and 73.2% had a history of traveling and contact with positive COVID-19 cases, respectively. There were significant correlations between the conjunctival results and diabetes (P=0.049) and hypertension (P=0.002). Traveling was a risk factor for positive conjunctival swab testing (P=0.016). The sensitivity of the conjunctival swab was 4.8%. Conclusion: Among all positive cases of COVID-19, a small percentage had positive results when tested using a conjunctival swab. Conjunctival swabs have very low sensitivity for the detection of COVID-19. However, tears could still be a mode of disease transmission, especially from patients to eye care specialists.




Hadrawi, M., Malak, M., Almahmoudi, F., Mogharbel, A., Rozy, O., Hanafi, S., … Alzahrani, K. (2021). Testing the sensitivity of conjunctival swabs from confirmed covid-19 patients. Clinical Ophthalmology, 15, 2489–2496. https://doi.org/10.2147/OPTH.S313721

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