Following the White House’s declared state of emergency in March and subsequent Harvard study showing a need for 20 million COVID-19 tests per day by the end of summer, innovation from the manufacturing industry has responded with a scalable technology capable of closing the testing gap.
Hoowaki’s NP Collection Swab is the first COVID-19 testing swab produced in injection molding machines. Conventional swabs use flocked fibers and are made on specialized, proprietary equipment in limited supply.
Ralph Hulseman, president of Hoowaki LLC, said “because injection molding machines already exist in U.S. facilities, the company’s swab can be produced to meet local testing demands for communities around the country.”
President Trump said his administration will purchase 100 million COVID-19 testing swabs this summer for distribution to U.S. states.
Data provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention highlights two tests for the virus. A viral test is used to detect a current infection, while an antibody test is designed to uncover a previous infection.
According to the CDC, an antibody test may not be able pick up a current infection because it can take one to three weeks after an infection to make antibodies. Additionally, there is no evidence showing the antibodies can protect someone from getting infected again, or how long that protection might last.
To ensure a successful viral testing product, Hoowaki LLC collaborated with Prisma Health to develop the innovative new design.
“The easy use and soft feel of the new testing swab impressed my team,” said Jennifer Meredith, Ph.D., clinical microbiology director at Prisma Health in South Carolina.
This product will help meet our commitment to patients in the fight against COVID-19, she said.
The Testing Process
The swab is inserted through the nose into the back of the throat and rotated to collect the patient’s RNA. The RNA is then tested in a lab for the presence of COVID-19.
With a micropillar design, Hulseman said his company’s swab collects RNA “at least as well, if not better, than flocked filament swabs and has passed testing to show it achieves optimal patient comfort during the procedure.”
The significant difference between conventional swabs and Hoowaki’s technology is in our scalability to meet testing demands, he said.
In addition, the technology is diverse and can be applied to other healthcare functions including used to collect biopsy samples for cancer cell testing and the seasonal flu.
The swab is already being purchased by hospitals, testing kit manufacturers, and diagnostic companies. Initially, the project will produce several million swabs per month. From there, Hoowaki LLC plans to connect with other injection molding facilities worldwide to boost production, which could easily reach tens of millions of swabs per month.