Icelandic authorities have had trouble obtaining the nasal swabs necessary to test for COVID-19. Though a shipment of 2,500 is expected to arrive in the country this week, RÚV reports authorities have been looking into whether it is possible to manufacture the swabs locally. The search revealed that Reykjavík-based prosthetics company Össur has 100,000 testing swabs similar to those used to test for COVID-19 that may be usable for the purpose.
Iceland slows testing as swab stocks shrink
The number of coronavirus tests being administered in Iceland has decreased daily between March 18 and March 22 as the number of swabs remaining in the country shrinks.
“We realised right away in January that there would be an increased need and ordered a lot of swabs then. But it’s not enough to order the swabs, because there is a great demand for them,” explains Karl G. Kristinsson, head of the National University Hospital’s virology ward. “We had to wait for production, and there’s no guarantee until the swabs arrive. We have been receiving fewer swabs than we should have.”
Promising local source
The National University Hospital was originally ordering swabs from a German manufacturer, but when that company stopped shipping, the hospital had to look for other suppliers. A shipment of 2,500 swabs for the Icelandic healthcare system is expected to arrive this week, and deCODE genetics has ordered a larger shipment, though its date of arrival is unknown.
“That’s why we have been looking for ways to produce swabs here in Iceland. deCODE genetics contacted Össur about the possibility of manufacturing swabs and found out that they have swabs, not like the ones we have been using, but swabs we could possibly use. We have tested them a bit and they seem to work so we put a few in trial and get to research them tomorrow. Then we’ll know whether we can use them [for COVID-19 testing].”
Össur has 100,000 of the promising swabs, though Karl says they are not of the same quality as those that should preferably be used for COVID-19 testing.