The US FDA has approved the use of spun synthetic swabs similar to Q-tips for use in testing for COVID-19. The swabs can be used for self-administered home testing for coronavirus, the FDA says.

US Cotton, the largest manufacturer of cotton swabs, has developed a polyester-based Q-tip-type swab that is fully synthetic for compatibility with COVID-19 testing.

Harnessing its large-scale US-based manufacturing capabilities, US Cotton plans to produce these new polyester swabs in large quantities to help meet the needs for coronavirus diagnostic testing.

This finding that spun synthetic swabs could be used for COVID-19 testing is based on results from a clinical investigation that represents a collaboration between the FDA, UnitedHealth Group, the Gates Foundation, and Quantigen.

The type of testing at the front of the nose used in this study is notable because it allows self-collection by patients thereby limiting exposure of healthcare providers; it is more comfortable for patients and it can be performed by a swab that is more readily available and manufacturable at scale.

We “want to acknowledge US Cotton’s efforts to manufacture a new type of swab for COVID-19 testing that can be produced at scale. We appreciate the work of these collaborators to consider how these test supplies could be broadly distributed to meet not only the testing needs of the United States but also global needs around the pandemic,” said FDA commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, MD. “All of these actions by these American organizations will help continue to expand our testing capability.”