Augusta Health may have developed a solution to the shortage of available coronavirus tests in Georgia: 3D-printed nasal swabs.
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Augusta Health may have developed a solution to the shortage of available coronavirus tests in Georgia: 3D-printed nasal swabs.

Augusta Health may have developed a solution to the shortage of available coronavirus tests in Georgia: 3D-printed nasal swabs.

The hospital announced on Saturday a partnership with the Georgia National Guard to test a prototype nasal swab developed with 3D printing technology. If proven effective, the swabs could be used by health officials statewide in their push to make testing more widely available.

The new design will be tested at Windermere Health and Rehabilitation Center, whose website says they provide "skilled nursing, short-term rehabilitation, and long-term care service." 

AU Health CEO Katrina Keefer said testing at the center could provide a roadmap for expanding the use of the new technology across the state.

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"This could provide a scalable way to test a lot more people, a lot faster," she said.

In the past several weeks, there has been a struggle to secure enough coronavirus tests. Manufacturers of the nasal swab used in the tests are already overwhelmed to keep up with demand and the delay has put a strain on the system.

Brig. Gen. Randall V. Simmons Jr. of the Georgia National Guard said that being able to make the swabs with a 3D printer could be the breakthrough the state desperately needs.

"These swabs are critically short in the supply chain and thanks to the innovative efforts of Augusta University, we should be able to expand testing efforts statewide," he said.

As of noon Sunday, April 19, there have been 18,489 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia. Of those, 689 have died.