COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–Local doctors are sending a new warning to COVID-19 test-takers, due to data showing the effectiveness of throat swabs.

“I would not recommend putting a home test swab in your mouth,” simply said Dr. Mark Herbert, an infectious disease expert at Mount Carmel Hospital. “The FDA has been very clear about following the instructions on the home tests precisely.”

Health experts agreed on how at-home antigen tests should be performed, and they explained there are new studies to suggest throat swabs may be useful going forward.

“I can tell you I’ve had cases in patients where their nose PCR is negative, and then the suspicion is so high, they get another [throat] PCR done and it’s positive at that time,” said OhioHealth’s Dr. Joseph Gastaldo.

With Omicron symptoms more likely to appear in the throat versus nasal cavity, doctors emphasized throat swabs may be particularly effective in detecting the latest variant.

“It requires knowledge of the anatomy, it requires training, and it requires a certain degree of fortitude to properly swab someone’s throat,” Dr. Herbert said.

Currently, only PCR throat swabs are approved by the FDA. That means they can only be performed in a healthcare setting.

“When you look at what the FDA evaluates on how the tests perform, it’s based on the environment of the nose and not the environment of the mouth or throat,” said Dr. Gastaldo.

Doctors warn even with the latest revelation, more variants could still come.

“This is applicable to Omicron. Hypothetically, there may be another variant we see later on this year or next that performs differently,” said Dr. Gastaldo.

Both doctors said that as we learn more, throat swab testing may become more common, and it would take a change to the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization to make that happen.