Yes it does. A recent study in Belgium, done on 244 patients with Influenza like illness (ILI) and/or acute Respiratory Tract Infection (RTI) showed this variability. This short report published at Virology Journal this January, described statistically, how the viral load, varies with sample collection pattern and the load of human DNA present in the sample.
Typically samples for suspected Influenza is collected from nasopharyngial swabs, aspirates and washes. But here, mid-turbinate flocked swabs were taken. On a previous article by mayo clinic, this less invasive, patient friendly sample collection procedure showed very good response. Adults can safely collect samples from themselves and children at home, which effectively decreases the out-patient rush during flu season.
This report has several shortcomings still. No specific data on left or right handed person, or any biological difference between two nostrils, is yet included, but may be solved on final version. Yet, this study is very important in Influenza study. till date, Flu surveillance studies focus on viral characterization, typing. But quantity measurement can also be a effective endpoint related with the quantitative PCR variability.
The report ends up with proposals on proper sample collection, multiple swabs from one and both nostrils etc. Viral quantity measurement in the studies of HIV, Hepatitis C virus has already been successful. For Influenza, this study opens a door to study more on a standard procedure for sample collection.
Also posted at : http://www.sciencenutshell.com/left-nose-right-matter-influenza/