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Team develops swabs to test for Covid-19

Shared by Ana Ribeiro on 2020-04-08 14:17

About the solution

Dr Ramy Arnaout, Associate Director of Clinical Microbiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), was aware of the shortage of nasopharyngeal swabs necessary to test patients for Covid-19. So, he put together a team and started coordinating a joint effort to develop a design that could be produced as soon as possible and in large scale. The work is being conducted in partnership with several major institutions, including BIDMC, the University of Southern Florida, the University of Washington, Stanford University and even the United States Army.

But that was no easy task. Dr. Arnout explains that "The swab ends up just about between your ears. These are specialized little things. They have to be flexible, that they don't hurt you. They can't be brittle, no one wants anything broken off inside your nose. We basically had to reverse engineer all of that on a pretty urgent basis."

In about two weeks more than 140 different materials had been evaluated and the team proceeded to take the most promising prototypes to field trials. The final goal is to end up with a design that can be manufactures in large scale at a low cost, and ideally have the ability to be decontaminated.

The work in evolving at a rapid pace and Dr. Arnout says that he is “cautiously optimistic that daily production of up to a million swabs will begin soon.”
The evolution of the process is being shared at the github platform, “ freely and openly in the spirit of cooperation for the free use for all”

More information: https://github.com/rarnaout/Covidswab

Adapted from: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-03/bidm-bps033120.php

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About the author

A team, coordinated by Dr Ramy Arnaout, is developing a new design for nasopharyngeal swabs that could be produced as soon as possible and in large scale.

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