In the battle against coronavirus, 3D-printed nasal swabs enter the health care arsenal

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As America attempts to contain the coronavirus outbreak, 3D-printed nasal swabs are being touted to boost health care workers’ testing arsenal.

With COVID-19 testing critical in the battle against coronavirus, nasal swabs are in the spotlight.

“There is a nationwide shortage of the nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs needed to collect samples for COVID-19 testing,” explained Formlabs, a Somerville, Mass-based 3D-printing specialist, on its website. “These swabs are typically used for testing for influenza and other respiratory infections. The current and impending supply chain shortages are serious enough that clinicians are beginning to design and test their own swabs as quickly and safely as possible.”

CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK LEADS TO NASAL SWABS BEING 3D-PRINTED

In partnership with Formlabs and others, Northwell Health recently announced that it has started 3D-printing nasal swabs to be used within the health system and across the U.S. to test for COVID-19. To overcome a shortage of swabs, Northwell Health teamed up with the University of South Florida, Tampa General Hospital and Formlabs to design and produce the swabs.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for Northwell Health told Fox News that its lab team had ordered 25,000 swabs from its 3D labs. “We are in the process of printing them by end of week,” he said.

Other projects to 3D-print nasal swabs are also underway.

3D-PRINTING TECHNOLOGY BATTLES CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

Watertown, Mass.-based 3D printing specialist Markforged recently announced a partnership with fiber photometry company Neurophotometrics to produce a 3D-printed swab that can be used for COVID-19 testing.

Neurophotometrics, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, the Scripps Research Institute, and the University of California San Diego designed and tested the 3D-printed swabs with 50 volunteers, Markforged said in a statement.

A new company, Swab56, was subsequently spun out of Neurophotometrics to produce the swabs. Markforged 3D-prints the swabs, and Swab56 is wrapping the rayon fiber used in the swabs and validating them for hospital use. "Swab56 recently purchased 1 million swabs from Markforged in an effort to keep up with ramped production and interest in the swabs, and in anticipation of an increase in orders from outside entities," a spokeswoman for Markforged told Fox News, via email.

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As of Tuesday night, more than 2.56 million coronavirus cases have been diagnosed worldwide, at least 824,889 of which are in the U.S. The disease has accounted for at least 177,424 deaths around the world, including at least 45,042 people in the U.S.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers