Unfortunately, the situation is still grim when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.
At the start of March, testing for the virus was limited, which caused only 70 cases to be reported in the U.S. with most of them being tied to overseas travel. Now that testing is more readily available, at least 24 states now have over 1,000 known cases within their borders, bringing the number of national cases to 188,247, according to The New York Times. The death toll had increased to at least 3,900 as of Wednesday.
Now that more people are getting tested, videos are popping up on social media showing the process, and it’s not pretty.
According to USA Today, patients have a swab, which looks like a long Q-tip, inserted through their nose to reach what’s called the nasopharyngeal region where cells are collected.
“If you were to open your mouth and say ‘Ahh’ and look straight back, that’s the region, right where the respiratory (tract) meets the back of your mouth,” said Kirsten Hokeness, an immunology expert who’s a professor at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island. “The virus likes to latch on there and start replicating.”
If a patient is calm, the swabbing only takes 10 seconds or so and is not that painful says USA Today. However, if you let people on social media testify, its a different story.
One teen on the video platform TikTok went viral when she described the process as feeling like “being stabbed in the brain.” The 17-year-old known as Shelby posted a video of herself getting tested. “It’s awful. I’m sorry,” the health-care worker who administered the test says in the video. “I wish there was a better way to do it.”
Soon, other people started posting their experience getting tested and it looked just as awful.
One woman who recorded her test for TikTok could barely go through with it the first time. Then, she finally got it over with, saying she “saw sparkles” in her eyes.
Another video shows a patient getting tested and the nurse left the swab up her nose for a couple of seconds to the dismay of the patient. When she finally took it out, the patient winced with the same feeling of discomfort.
“I think taking it out’s worse,” said the nurse.
“I think you took half of my brain there with you,” joked the patient in the video.
Despite the extreme discomfort, the tests are crucial to your own medical treatment and to stopping the spread of the virus. Once the sample is collected, it’s put into a sterile container and sent to a lab where a chemical is used to extract the cells off the swab and turn the sample into liquid form. This liquid is then transferred to a machine that goes through hot and cold cycles to make multiple copies of the virus’ ribonucleic acid (RNA), which carries genetic information. The machine seeks to match the person’s RNA with the coronavirus RNA to determine a positive or negative result.
You have to love science, no matter how painful. Continue to be troopers out there and stay healthy!