Fact check: A video of a swab used for COVID-19 tests does not show that the material is ‘alive’

A video watched more than 34,000 times, in which a person rips apart the material from what is described as a COVID-19 test swab, includes several false claims - such as that the material is “alive” or is made from “Morgellons,” a theoretical material associated with an unproven medical condition.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The video (here) features a woman who says she got COVID-19 tests from a friend, which she takes apart with tweezers. She shows the packaging of a swab and says: “Do you see what the COVID test says, Tip wrapped with traditional fiber. Well, this fiber that’s on here is the same fiber that comes out of my body, these are nanoparticles.” (Timestamp 0.18)

Nanoparticles are microscopic particles measuring less than 100nm in one dimension (here) and are not visible under normal conditions (here).

She also says that, compared to a normal cotton Q-tip which is white, the material in the swab in the COVID test has a silvery sheen. While regular Q-tips are said to be made from 100% pure cotton (here), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises that “only synthetic fiber swabs” be used to collect samples (here). The test swab seen in the video is a CLASSIQSwabs dry swab, which are available with tips made of polyester or viscose — a type of rayon (here here). Both materials have a sheen.

Later in the video, the woman says: “These are the same particles that come out of my body. They are nanoparticles. These particles are alive and they move.” (Timestamp 1.07) It is unclear what is making the fibers move in the video — heat, wind or breath could be factors. Polyester is well documented to be partial to build up static charges (here). There are no other indications that the material shown is “alive”.

Later in the video, the woman claims “They’re putting nanoparticles right into your head. I know this for a fact because this material, these fibers, these silver fibers right here, they come out of my body. They’re called Morgellons.” (Timestamp 2.54).

Morgellons disease is an unproven skin condition in which sufferers report that fibers are being released from sores on their body (here). Some doctors have described the disease as a delusion (here and here and here and here) .While some research has suggested some patients may be suffering from actual infections (here and here) the assertions that the fibers removed from sufferers of Morgellons disease are “alive” nanoparticles, or that they are the same material as seen the swab, are unfounded.


False. The presence of nanoparticles cannot be directly assessed by the naked eye. The material used in swabs used to test for COVID-19 is advised to be synthetic material, rather than cotton, and is not ‘alive’. Morgellons disease is an unproven condition and any properties of fibers caused by the disease are theoretical.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts   here .