Publication Date


Journal Title

Clin Infect Dis


BACKGROUND:Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, can be detected in respiratory samples by Real-time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR or other molecular methods. Accessibility of diagnostic testing for COVID-19 has been limited by intermittent shortages of supplies required for testing, including flocked nasopharyngeal (FLNP) swabs. METHODS:We developed a 3D-printed nasopharyngeal (3DP) swab as a replacement of the FLNP swab. The performance of 3DP and FLNP swabs were compared in a clinical trial of symptomatic patients at three clinical sites (n=291) using three SARS-CoV-2 EUA tests: a modified version of the CDC Real-time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR Diagnostic Panel and two commercial automated formats, Roche Cobas and NeuMoDx. RESULTS:The cycle threshold (C(t)) values from the gene targets and the RNase P gene control in the CDC assay showed no significant differences between swabs for both gene targets (p=0.152 and p=0.092), with the RNase P target performing significantly better in the 3DP swabs (p & 0.001). The C(t) values showed no significant differences between swabs for both viral gene targets in the Roche cobas assay (p=0.05 and p=0.05) as well as the NeuMoDx assay (p=0.401 and p=0.484). The overall clinical correlation of COVID-19 diagnosis between all methods was 95.88% (Kappa 0.901). CONCLUSIONS:3DP swabs were equivalent to standard FLNP in three testing platforms for SARS-CoV-2. Given the need for widespread testing, 3DP swabs printed on-site are an alternate to FLNP that can rapidly scale in response to acute needs when supply chain disruptions affect availability of collection kits.

Document Type





School of Medicine

Primary Department

Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Additional Departments

Molecular Medicine; COVID-19 Publications





Included in

Pathology Commons