The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has begun anal swab testing for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in a questionable new approach to tackling an increasingly expanding COVID-19 pandemic.
On Jan. 20, Party mouthpiece CCTV reported the Beijing municipal government announced it had used anal swabbing to test 1,298 students, staff, and teachers at a school where a 9-year-old boy was allegedly diagnosed having contracted COVID-19 on Jan. 18.
CCTV quoted an infectious disease specialist from Beijing’s Youan Hospital as saying: “The asymptomatic carriers and COVID-19 patients with mild-symptoms can recover very quickly. In three to five days after the infection, their pharynx will be virus-free.” The specialist reasoned that: “Stool samples will contain the virus for a longer time … testing from the anus can improve the detection rate and reduce the false-negative rate.”
China’s 163.com, or NetEase, similarly reported citizens of Shandong, Hebei, and Liaoning provinces were subjected to the invasive testing method.
According to the world’s leading Chinese-language independent media outlet, Epoch Times, Chinese netizens had pushed the phrase “I’d rather not travel than allow a nurse to pick up anal swabs” to prominence on mainland social media platforms. State-run media reportedly posted schematics for how anal testing would be conducted, downplaying the intrusion by saying the procedure would only take 10 seconds.
Global News cited a statement from Dr. Yang Zhanqiu to another Chinese government publication, Global Times, that pointed out the SARS-CoV-2 virus primarily transmits through the upper respiratory tract: “There have been cases concerning the coronavirus testing positive in a patient’s excrement, but no evidence has suggested it had been transmitted through one’s digestive system.” Other than this, Western big media outlets such as The Washington Post, The Guardian, Reuters, and Global News all repeated the CCP propaganda without casting doubt on their reports’ veracity or the methodology’s merit.
Some experts on China and the CCP had referred to the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 simply as the “CCP Virus,” because Beijing covered up an emerging pandemic in Wuhan for weeks by suppressing information and censuring and arresting doctors and journalists who attempted to alert the public during late 2019 and early 2020, the earliest and most crucial timing that would have allowed countries to restrict their borders and stop the spread before it happened.
By comparison, officials from Taiwan, or the Republic of China (ROC), a small democratic island off the coast of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), took the earliest news seriously. Taipei understood Beijing’s way of handling crises from decades of battling for sovereignty against the Communist threat. The ROC quickly closed the country’s borders to the mainland while taking strict measures to isolate and monitor those who had recently entered and tested positive.
As a result, Taiwan, a country excluded from the World Health Organization, with a population of 23.78 million people, has lived a lockdown free life, experiencing only 893 cases and 7 deaths over the entire course of the coronavirus pandemic.
A May 2019 study in the Journal of Medical Virology focused on the batch analysis of studies and reports in Medline and China National Knowledge Infrastructure, which purported to examine the validity of the anal swab or feces-based testing methods. Only 12 studies were found to meet search criteria, and all were from China.
Out of 324 patients across all studies, 107 had a positive rectal or stool sample after testing negative in the nasopharyngeal test. Still, it was considered “noteworthy that a significant proportion of these patients are within the pediatric age‐group.” The study pointed out that the RT-PCR test method “does not usually distinguish between the infectious virus and noninfectious nucleic acid,” but noted that one study did find four specimens that could, upon culturing, demonstrate a live sample of the virus through electron microscopy.
“Our study was limited by the small number of studies, with small sample sizes,” said the paper. “High‐quality studies are urgently needed to characterize better the magnitude of SARS‐CoV‐2 viral persistence in body secretions, as well as its potential for disease transmission and infection, and possible implications for COVID‐19 discharge and isolation policies.”