'It's not painful': Minister Balakrishnan praised for demonstrating Covid-19 test kit on himself

PHOTO: Facebook / Screengrab / Vivian Balakrishnan

Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan sought out to demystify the process of self-conducting a rapid Covid-19 test, offering up himself as the test subject for a video posted on Facebook on Thursday (Oct 23). 

Understandably, many are apprehensive about getting swabbed and tested through an antigen rapid test (ART) kit, which processes the results of a Covid-19 assessment in as little as 15 minutes. 

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has noted that the accuracy of ART is not as accurate as a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, which is more definitive in the confirmation of Covid-19 cases but would take about one to two days to process. 

PCR would not be practical for testing attendees of large-scale events, MOH noted. ARTs, on the other hand, yield results in a shorter timeframe, and meet the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s minimum recommendation for accuracy. 

While the prevailing myth of Covid-19 nasal swab tests is that it is painful (those swabs really have to be shoved deep up both nostril), Minister Balakrishnan demonstrated that it’s not as agonising as people had made it out to be. 

“I won’t say it’s comfortable, but it’s not painful,” the former chief executive of Singapore General Hospital tells the camera, even after pushing the swab up his nostrils further than necessary to dislodge mucus and cells. 


The swab stick would then be inserted into a reagent container to dislodge the mucus before its contents get read in an analysing machine. Of course, he tests negative for Covid-19. 

The decision to put himself as the test subject received widespread praise online, with many appreciating that a politician is showcasing the test kit. 

PHOTO: Screengrab/Facebook

MOH’s new pilot programme will see participants in mass events required to take an ART, which can be conducted at event venues. 

"Pre-event testing pilots will enable MOH to study pre-event testing processes and to identify a model which can be implemented more widely and allow more large-scale events to resume eventually," the ministry stated.