Please stop putting COVID-19 test solution in your eyes and nose, FDA says

Enlarge / A woman takes a swab as part of a rapid COVID-19 antigen test.

The Food and Drug Administration is alerting Americans to the potential dangers of at-home COVID-19 testing after receiving reports of people blatantly abusing it, resulting in injury.

In a safety communication released Friday, the FDA said it had received reports of injuries after people used the kits’ liquid test solution as eye drops or put the solution in their noses. “The liquid test solution is not meant to touch your body,” the FDA wrote sternly. The agency also reported that some children were injured after putting test components in their mouths and swallowing the solution.

“Liquid solutions may include chemical ingredients, such as sodium azide, that help the test work properly or act as preservatives,” the FDA wrote. “The chemicals tested may be irritating or toxic if they come into contact with the skin, nose or eyes or are swallowed.”

Home tests all have slightly different protocols, but they often involve combining a test solution and nasal swab samples on a test card. In Abbott’s popular BinaxNow test, for example, people are asked to place six drops of a test solution on a test card. Then, candidates swab their nose, insert the swab into the primed test card, seal the card, and wait 15 minutes for results. In the iHealth COVID-19 test, people being tested swab their nose, swirl the swab in a test solution, then squeeze three drops of the solution onto a test card and wait for the results.

According to the FDA, some people put the test solution on the swab before rubbing their nose, which swirls the test solution around their nostrils.

It is not known how many people were injured by these snafus tests or how severe their injuries were. However, the FDA would like you to stop it. The agency recommends everyone keep their test kits out of reach of pets and young children. Once you are ready to use your kit, read the instructions and follow them. The agency also recommends “keeping the liquid solution away from the skin, nose, mouth, and eyes. Do not swallow the liquid solution” and “only using the swab from the test kit to take a nasal sample”.

“FDA-authorized COVID-19 home testing has become an important and convenient tool people can use to check if they or a family member is currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,” the regulator said. Remarks. They are also perfectly safe to use, when you follow the instructions.

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