- Title: 3D printers add nasal swabs to arsenal in fight against coronavirus
- Date: 9th April 2020
- Summary: BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES (APRIL 8, 2020) (REUTERS VIA SKYPE) (SOUNDBITE) (English) GREG MARK, FOUNDER AND CEO OF MARKFORGED, SAYING: "And what you do is they take COVID positive and COVID negative patients, and then they swab them and then swab them a number of days later to see if the test is still picking up the viral load. And what you're really looking to do is benchmark test with the existing off the shelf swab: how does these this new 3D printed swap compare? And the fortunate result is that the initial clinical testing shows that the new 3D-printed swab actually has a higher accuracy in detecting both COVID positive and COVID negative patients. So this is, this is a big deal because it will help help get a more accurate test, which is the number one way you can slow down this disease."
- Embargoed: 23rd April 2020 22:37
- Keywords: 3D printed nasal swabs 3D printed swabs COVID-19 COVID-19 testing Markforged Neurophotometrics coronavirus coronavirus testing nasal swabs
- Location: HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES / NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES / BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES / NEUILLY-SUR-SEINE, FRANCE / UNKNOWN LOCATION
- City: HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES / NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES / BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES / NEUILLY-SUR-SEINE, FRANCE / UNKNOWN LOCATION
- Country: USA
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA004C8RSRBB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A Boston-based 3D printing company said Thursday (April 9) it has started to print its own nasal swabs, claiming it has so far shown a higher accuracy rate in identifying patients who test positive or negative for the coronavirus compared to commercially available swabs.
Markforged said its engineers went through at least 20 different designs before ending up with its final prototype, a 3D-printed nylon swab base with a wrapped rayon tip, which it's now producing for testing kits for COVID-19, the highly contagious, sometimes deadly respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
"This is a big deal because it will help get a more accurate test, which is the number one way you can slow down this disease," Markforged CEO and founder Greg Mark said on Wednesday, prior to the company's Thursday announcement.
Health experts have said widespread testing is the best way to track and trace the spread of the virus.
Researchers at Markforged partnered with Neurophotometrics, Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego, the Scripps Research Institute, and the University of California San Diego to design and test the swabs.
Through their partnership, they were able to test their new 3D-printed nasal swabs on about 60 individuals at two separate times over several days, Greg said.
"And what you're really looking to do is benchmark test with the existing off the shelf swab: How does these this new 3D printed swap compare? And the fortunate result is that the initial clinical testing shows that the new 3D printed swab actually has a higher accuracy in detecting both COVID positive and COVID negative patients."
They are currently printing 10,000 swabs a day and plan to scale up to 100,000.
Greg said they believe the effectiveness comes down to its design, in particular the surface area on the swab's rayon tip.
"So we use a very fine rayon that has a lot of surface area to attract and collect material. And it also could be the orientation of these fibers that are kind of going parallel to the surface because when you put it in there and you spin it, it's kind of like a little eggbeater swabbing at or wiping at the back of your nose. So there's a number of different ways from the surface area to the orientation of the fibers to the physical volume of fibers that we use that we think are driving the increase collection efficiency," he said.
In addition to the hospital in San Diego, Greg said several other hospitals, including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and others in California, Florida and beyond, have signed on to continue testing and to gather more data.
Markforged is far from alone in their endeavor to 3D print nasal swabs.
In New York, hospital system Northwell Health said it has also started to make its own nasal swabs using 3D printing with its pilot study results showing the devices are safe and effective.
With 23 hospitals, Northwell is the largest healthcare provider in New York state, which has by far the most cases in the United States with more than 7,000 deaths from COVID-19. That number is nearly half of the total across the country. As of Thursday afternoon, there were 15,720 deaths and about 444,000 positive cases in the U.S.
Elsewhere, Tethon 3D in Nebraska is helping Nebraska Medicine boost its testing numbers by producing about 1,000 nasal swabs a day, while Silicon Valley-based Carbon said it's producing more than a million swabs a week to support testing.
(Production: Nathan Frandino)
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