A paramedic wearing protective gear takes a nasal swab of 103 year-old Abdul Alim, to be tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Aga Khan Health Services Emergency Response Centre in Booni, Chitral. PHOTO: REUTERS

Pakistan all set to produce nasal swabs locally: AKU

AKU successfully develops 3D-printed, low-cost nasal swab for Covid-19 tests

Our Correspondent November 10, 2020

The Aga Khan University developed 3D printed, low-cost nasal swab for Covid-19 testing in Pakistan, the varsity announced in a press release on Tuesday.

According to the AKU, Pakistan now has the ability to locally produce nasal swabs, the essential tool required to collect samples for Covid-19 tests, after the university successfully completed clinical trials on a 3D printed swab.

The pandemic has led to a global surge in the demand for diagnostic test kits and components, including the cotton bud-shaped nasal swabs. As countries around the world ramped up testing facilities, Pakistan found itself in no different a situation and had to import all nasal swabs to date.

"Supply constraints at the peak of the pandemic in April to May 2020 led to AKU’s Innovation Lab searching for a solution by designing and developing a local alternative," their statement read.

A team of researchers, clinical laboratory experts and biomedical engineers used a specialised 3D printer to develop a prototype. The varsity claimed the clinical trials on the prototype found the 3D printed nasal swab to be as safe, effective and user-friendly as imported swabs.

“Our printer can produce over 1,000 swabs per day at a significantly lower cost than those we import,” said Saleem Sayani, director of AKU’s Technology Innovation Support Centre and Digital Health Resource Centre.

AKU Medical College Dean Dr Adil Haider stated that the swab demonstrated how local innovation can solve local problems even in the midst of a pandemic.

“The 3D printed swab will reduce the need to import swabs for respiratory sampling,” said Professor Zahra Hasan from AKU’s department of pathology and laboratory medicine, the co-principal investigator on the project.

“This can help increase Covid-19 diagnostic capacity across Pakistan,” she added.


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