Yes, it’s unpleasant. Trillions of people have received Covid-19 tests since March but While there are several tests for the virus on the market, the most common is a nasopharyngeal swab but Nobody likes to have their nasopharynx probed.
To get a suitable sample to test, the swab has to go through your nose first; then, it is pushed to the back of your throat. The tissues back there are fairly sensitive and not used to something touching them. The uncomfortable sensation is usually only temporary and worth it to know your COVID-19 status. The preliminary data look really promising. But we’re still waiting on larger studies to confirm these initial findings.
The body is not used to having an object in that area, though, so it creates a lot of very odd sensations. For one thing, it activates the lachrymal reflex, which means it’ll bring tears to your eyes if it’s done correctly. I wouldn't go so far as to say it hurt, but it is uncomfortable. Since the swab will also touch the back of the throat, it may also trigger a gag reflex.
Pain is not only a matter of intensity, it’s a matter of duration. Those factors are what make it so hard to cope with the pandemic itself: we don’t know when it will end. At least a Covid-19 test, no matter how uncomfortable, only lasts a few seconds.