Currently set to No Follow

UCLA 3D-Printed Swabs Helps COVID-19 Testing Shortage

We now have a secure source to supply all of UCLA Health’s swabs as the need for COVID-19 testing continues to grow

Share via
2 shares, 129 points
Share via

COVID-19 Testing in California


An innovative effort launched in April and led by a fellow in the UCLA Biodesign program has yielded positive results, solving the health system’s shortage of nasopharyngeal swabs – a key element in COVID-19 testing – at a time when Southern California is seeing a rise in new cases and new deaths per day.

On April 24, UCLA Health announced the project and institutional review board (IRB) approval of a protocol for a validation study of new swabs. In just over a month, and after conducting rigorous clinical testing of several 3D-printed swab prototypes on patients with COVID-19, UCLA Health was granted permission from the Food and Drug Administration to use the most promising design, which is from Resolution Medical LLC.

Dr. Gabe Oland led rigorous clinical testing of several 3D-printed swab prototypes on patients with COVID-19.

“With the rapid spread of the new coronavirus, testing supplies – especially nasopharyngeal swabs – were suddenly in high demand and short supply on a local, national, and even global scale. After working with a variety of manufacturers to test various designs, we now have a secure source to supply all of UCLA Health’s swabs as the need for COVID-19 testing continues to grow,” said Gabriel Oland, MD, a general surgery resident at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and a fellow in the UCLA Biodesign program, who helped lead the effort to test swabs that could be manufactured swiftly and in large quantities.

Unlike swabs with woven fiber at the tip – similar in appearance to cotton swabs found in stores for consumer use, but made with longer shafts and sterile, spongy materials – UCLA Health’s new swabs, like many others, consist of a single plastic material from tip to tip, with a lattice design to collect a sample at one end.

“Given that it’s only using one material, 3D printing is perfect for rapid output,” Oland said.

“COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in California, and more than half of new cases in the last two weeks have been in Los Angeles County,” said Omai Garner, PhD, director of clinical microbiology testing for UCLA Health. “Before the pandemic, we used about 200 nasopharyngeal swabs a day, but now we need 500-600 for COVID-19 testing alone, and we anticipate needing over 1000 each day in the coming months.”

Omai Garner, PhD. Specialty in Pathology

Garner and Oland conducted the study with principal investigator Annabelle de St. Maurice, MD, assistant professor of Pediatrics and co-chief infection prevention officer at UCLA Health.

“Although we hoped the Los Angeles area would be spared the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to move with urgency to address the COVID-19 testing swab shortage,” de St. Maurice said. “Results of our collaboration mean that UCLA Health is now well-positioned to meet the needs of our community as COVID-19 testing becomes increasingly important.”

Desert Horse-Grant, senior director of UCLA Health Research and Innovation and co-executive director of UCLA Biodesign, worked with UCLA Health leadership to coordinate the 3D-printed swab task force with the study’s framework and objectives. She tapped Oland to co-lead the task force because his combination of skills gave him “the expertise to think through COVID-19 obstacles and outsmart them with the right experts.”

Read more  These Home-Made Light Bulbs Require NO Electricity
Desert Horse-Grant is the Senior Director of Research and Innovation at UCLA Health

Oland has medical and surgical experience – including treating COVID-19-positive patients – an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering and a familiarity with production methods like 3D printing. He had been working to develop a noninvasive intracranial pressure monitoring device before pivoting to the swab task force in lieu of an externship that would normally come at the end of the UCLA Biodesign fellowship year.


Although the FDA normally requires lengthy and thorough COVID-19 testing and validation of new medical products, swabs fall into a category for which the onus of validation instead rests with hospitals and clinical labs. “It’s not an easy task, but it was imperative that we executed the study right so we could offer the best results for our patients,” Oland said, adding that he has been impressed with the way industry, healthcare systems and regulatory agencies have adapted and worked together to solve this problem under unusually tight time constraints.

Other COVID-19 Updates



GineersNow Distributes PPE to Medical Workers

Israeli Cured COVID-19 Patients Using Placenta



Harvard Talks: Engineering Company’s COVID-19 Battle Strategies

Harvard Talks: HVAC Healthy Buildings During COVID-19

Harvard Talks: How Engineering Companies Enact Remote Work?

MIT & Harvard Strategy to Limit the Spread of COVID-19

Harvard Talks: Engineering Sector’s Organizational Development

Harvard Talks: Engineering Leaders Will Engage in Teaming

Harvard Covid-19 Strategy on How to Reopen a Country

Harvard Talks: Forward-Thinking Engineering Leaders

Harvard Talks: Engineering Operation Impact of COVID-19

Harvard Talks: 7 Leadership Principles in the Time of COVID-19

Harvard Talks: Engineering Work Culture After COVID-19 Pandemic

Harvard Talks: 7 Leadership Principles in the Time of COVID-19

Harvard Talks: Cut Salaries or Cut People?

Harvard Talks: The Supply Chain in Post COVID-19 Era



WHO Preparedness and Response to COVID-19

WHO Q&A: COVID-19 and Influenza Comparison



How Has COVID-19 Impacted The Construction Sector?

Construction Force Majeure During COVID-19

Converting Existing Building to COVID-19 Hospital – WHO Guidelines

WHO COVID-19 Buildings & Tents Screening Layout Standards



COVID-19 Hotel is a Huge HVAC Nightmare

Ventilation Standards for Buildings Converted to COVID-19 Hospitals

Air Filtration for COVID-19 Treatment Centers

ASHRAE on COVID-19 HVAC Concerns



The Water Europe Post-COVID-19 Strategy



Petroleum Price Will Never Be The Same After Covid-19

Oil Price Crashes Below $0 per Barrel

Coronavirus will accelerate the growth of renewable energy solutions



COVID-19 Economic Impact Analysis

COVID-19 Economic Aftermath on the Construction Industry

Postponed Exhibitions in the Philippines due to COVID-19

Cancelled Major Events Around the World Due to COVID-19

World Bank Gives $12 Billion to COVID-19 Affected Countries



UCLA 3D-Printed Swabs Helps COVID-19 Testing Shortage

UCLA Biodesign Fellow Focuses Biomedical Engineering Insights on Swabs Shortage

Philips Ventilator Respironics E30 for ICU COVID-19 Patients

Here’s the Tesla Ventilator Prototype

Lamborghini Medical Shields & Surgical Masks for Health Workers

UCLA Engineer Made a Ventilator from Hardware Items

Forecast Deaths, Hospitals & Ventilators: COVID-19 Impact, USA Full Report

Top 10 Largest Ventilator Manufacturers in the World

Metronic Ventilator Ramping Up Production

Engineers, Can You Help Build a DIY Ventilator for Hospitals?

PPE Shortage Endangering Health Workers Worldwide


Read more  Don’t Make A Slow Recovery More Difficult with Quarantine Measures


COVID-19 Deaths to Reach 81,000 in US By June – Forecasts by IHME & Univ. of Washington

List of Government Officials Tested Positive in PH

COVID-19 War: 70K Physicians vs 109M Filipinos

Famous People Who Have Tested Positive for COVID-19

These Politicians Tested Positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 Philippines: DOH on Code Red Status



100% Success Rate for Pluristem COVID-19 Treatment

What If There’s No Vaccine To Fight COVID-19?

COVID-19 Treatment: The Search Continues

Clean Air in Europe leads to 11K Fewer Deaths During Lockdown

Complete List of Companies Working on Coronavirus Vaccine

Tiger Tests Positive for Coronavirus at New York Zoo



7 Dynamic Tips to Protect Your Business from Potential Wide-Scale Effect of COVID-19

We Need Testing, Vaccine & Treatment, But Until That Happens, We Need This!

How to Create a COVID-19 Proof Workplace

Work From Home Tips for Engineering, Industrial & Tech Companies

Water is Our First Line of Defense Against COVID-19

The List of COVID-19 Disinfectants Approved by EPA



This Country Sends Covid-19 Test Results by WhatsApp & FB Messenger

Hope Probe Transferred to Japan, Despite COVID-19

Robot Technology to Reinstate a COVID-Free Airport

How Artificial Intelligence Can Drive Greater Speed and Accuracy in Vaccine Development

Cyber-Criminals are Exploiting People’s Fears of COVID-19



Marketing Help for Engineering Companies Navigating COVID‑19

How to Apply for Government Financial Assistance for SMEs

Harvard Talks: How Marketing Works During COVID-19

Rewriting Marketing in Times of COVID-19 Crisis?

Hyundai Motor Extends Warranties Due to COVID-19

Top 5 Most Traded Stocks During COVID-19



Coaching Builds COVID-19 Resilience to Engineering Team

How COVID-19 Is Changing College Admissions Cycle in 2020



Anticipating The Future of Air Travel on After Covid-19

Don’t Make A Slow Recovery More Difficult with Quarantine Measures

Aviation Industry Roadmap: Post-Pandemic Plan

Emirates New Normal at Airport and Boarding an Airplane

Can We Give Airline Financial Relief to Protect Their Jobs?

Airlines Around the World are Struggling to Survive

COVID-19: APAC Air Passenger Demand Dropped 65.5%

Emirates Airline Passenger Rules During COVID-19

Airlines Around the World are Struggling to Survive

Show Your COVID-19 Test Result at the Airport

The Most Modern Flying Hospital with ICU from Germany

COVID-19 Impact: 25 Million Jobs at Risk with Airline Shutdown

Airbus Gives 3D-Printed Hospital Visors to Health Workers

Airlines COVID-19 Analysis: Aviation Collapsed

Air Cargo Demand Down 3.3% due to COVID-19 Disruption

COVID-19 Financial Impacts in the Aviation Industry

Share via

Like it? Share with your friends!

Share via
2 shares, 129 points
Engr. Alicia White
Studied Industrial engineering at Went to University of New South Wales and human resources at Melbourne Business School. Ex Rio Tinto, now with BHP Billiton and GineersNow. Follow me on


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy * for Click to select the duration you give consent until.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Send this to a friend