USF Health helps create 3D printed nasal swabs for coronavirus testing

Local News

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The demand is high and the supply is limited in Florida and across the country for a critical piece of COVID-19 testing kits, the nasal swabs.

A team from the University of South Florida Health has helped come up with a solution to address this emergency shortage during the global pandemic.

Along with Northwell Health out of New York and 3D printing company Formlabs, USF Health announced Saturday that they have successfully produced and tested 3D printed nasal swabs. 

“We can’t get an accurate number of how many patients actually have this virus in the state of Florida until we have enough testing kits,” Dr. Summer Decker from USF Health Department of Radiology told 8 On Your Side via FaceTime.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Florida surpassed 4,000 on Saturday.

“This is not what we’d normally do in normal circumstances, but we’re having to be creative,” Decker said.

She said her team from the 3D Clinical Applications Division worked with USF Ear, Nose and Throat doctors to come up with a design that is both safe and comfortable for patients.

She told 8 On Your Side an infectious diease specialist from USF Health made sure these 3D printed nasal swabs can actually detect for viruses.

“We’ve been able to go from the design to actual bench lab testing to now clinical trial within less than a week and a half,” Decker said.

USF collaborated with Northwell Health, the largest health care provider in New York, so the new 3D printed swabs are ready for use in the state hit hardest by the pandemic.

“After our positive testing results, we then immediately went to work and have already started producing 1,000-1,500 swabs per day,” said Todd Goldstein, PhD, Director of Northwell Health 3D Design and Innovation. “Not only will these swabs be provided to Northwell Health patients, we are also proud to be sharing the design with other institutions that can 3D print so that patients across the country can benefit from our work.”

Decker said the 3D printers in their lab at Tampa General Hospital can produce 3,000 nasal swabs in a day. She said the plan is to share their files with hospitals across the country that have 3D printers.

“In this kind of terrible situation, you’re seeing people work together that never would have and putting all kind of barriers aside and working for the common good,” she said.


WHAT TO KNOW:

  • Florida is reporting 47,471 cases and 2,069 deaths
  • Florida K-12 schools will remain online/distance learning through the end of the school year
  • Florida in Phase One of reopening
  • Travelers from NY tri-state area and New Orleans coming to Florida must quarantine for 14 days

LATEST ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC:

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