Prospective clinical validation of 3D printed nasopharyngeal swabs for diagnosis of COVID-19

Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2020 Oct 22;99(3):115257. doi: 10.1016/j.diagmicrobio.2020.115257. Online ahead of print.


COVID-19 greatly disrupted the global supply chain of nasopharyngeal swabs, and thus new products have come to market with little data to support their use. In this prospective study, 2 new 3D printed nasopharyngeal swab designs were evaluated against the standard, flocked nasopharyngeal swab for the diagnosis of COVID-19. Seventy adult patients (37 COVID-positive and 33 COVID-negative) underwent consecutive diagnostic reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction testing, with a flocked swab followed by one or two 3D printed swabs. The "Lattice Swab" (manufacturer Resolution Medical) demonstrated 93.3% sensitivity (95% CI, 77.9%-99.2%) and 96.8% specificity (83.3%-99.9%), yielding κ = 0.90 (0.85-0.96). The "Origin KXG" (manufacturer Origin Laboratories) demonstrated 83.9% sensitivity (66.3%-94.6%) and 100% specificity (88.8%-100.0%), yielding κ = 0.84 (0.77-0.91). Both 3D printed nasopharyngeal swab results have high concordance with the control swab results. The decision to use 3D printed nasopharyngeal swabs during the COVID-19 pandemic should be strongly considered by clinical and research laboratories.

Keywords: 3D printing; COVID-19; Diagnostic; Nasopharyngeal swab; SARS-CoV-2.