Spun synthetic swabs – with a design similar to Q-tips – can now be used to test patients by collecting a sample from the front of the nose, announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Announced on April 16, 2020, this FDA authorization expands COVID-19 disease testing options, which have been hindered by swab supply-demand imbalances.
Furthermore, this type of testing at the front of the nose is notable because it allows self-collection by patients thereby limiting exposure of healthcare providers; it is more comfortable for patients and it can be performed by a swab that is more readily available and manufacturable at scale.
As part of this effort, U.S. Cotton, the largest manufacturer of cotton swabs and a subsidiary of Parkdale-Mills, developed a polyester-based Q-tip-type swab that is fully synthetic for compatibility with COVID-19 testing.
“This action today demonstrates the ingenuity that results from the FDA working in partnership with the private sector,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., in a press release.
“We also want to acknowledge U.S. Cotton’s efforts to manufacture a new type of swab for COVID-19 testing that can be produced at scale.”
The finding that spun synthetic swabs could be used for COVID-19 testing is based on results from a clinical investigation that represents a collaboration between the FDA, UnitedHealth Group, and Quantigen.
Previous data indicate the material used in the swab can affect testing because certain tests work by growing large amounts of the virus using a reaction called the polymerase chain reaction, or PCR.
The common Q-tips, for instance, do work in this use-case, because the cotton on the Q-tip actually contains its own DNA since it is a plant.
The swabs that are currently used are nylon or foam. But the FDA’s expansion of permitted materials to some made of polyester could help reduce shortages.
The FDA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices.
Source: Precision Vaccinations
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