A Brussels hospital is researching whether tears could provide a way to replace the nose swabs currently used to diagnose patients with the new coronavirus (Covid-19).
The research project by UZ Brussel university hospital would seek to determine whether tears can be used for both diagnoses as well as antibody tests, done via a nasal swab and a blood test, respectively.
“It would be an alternative to the annoying nasal swab,” UZ Brussel CEO Marc Noppen told Bruzz. “Tear fluid can easily be collected by placing a sort of tissue paper in the corner the eye for a few seconds.”
Noppen said that the hospital is looking to launch the research project as soon as possible and has launched an appeal for funding to members of the UZ Brussel Foundation.
The research will mainly aim to determine whether tears have enough viral or antibody material to replace current tests.
Noppen said that the research into using tears instead of PCR nose swabs could take longer than that for immunity tests, with health officials still reporting fewer than 100 new coronavirus cases each day.
“For [PCR tests], there are only about ten patients a day,” he said. “But for antibody testing, currently between 5 to 7% of the population has antibodies, so it should be clearer more quickly whether [tear] tests are useful or not.”