The shortage of supply of the nasopharyngeal sample required for screening for COVID-19, who were required to control the epidemic, was a key catastrophe that followed the pandemic’s emergence.

The Journal of Clinical Microbiology, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology, released a description of how one organization dealt with the situation this week.

Lessons From The COVID-19 Swab Crisis And Pandemic Emergencies

“We met the challenge by creating all-new swabs, which were ready and clinically tested in just three weeks,” said Ramy Arnaout, M.D., D.Phil., Associate Professor of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, and Associate Director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratories, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).

Lessons From The COVID-19 Swab Crisis And Pandemic Emergencies

To counter the challenge of infection and curb it spreading ahead the first step is to identify the one who is infected and that is made quickly with the help of the swab test only. The shortage of swabs indicates a poor counter of this challenge.

As the initial round of COVID-19 burst out throughout the U.S., BIDMC, which possessed the biggest in-house COVID-19 diagnostic center in Boston, discovered itself with only a week’s inventory of samples. “The only long-term solution was more manufacturing,” Dr. Arnaout added.

To explore if scientists can produce wipes from start, he and his coworkers started reversing designing them.

Swabs should be separately packed and sterile, and they must either be too rigid or too soft. BIDMC required approximately ten thousand people every week, whereas the nation required almost ten million.

Dr. Arnaout had already proved, through his work in computer immunology, that public and cooperative crowdsourced could be a feasible method to solve complicated computer issues. In the COVID situation, he applied this experience.

“We navigated our… networks, letting manufacturers know about the swab crisis and what we needed from them to solve it,” said Arnaout. “We set up a free publicly viewable knowledge base online in the form of a GitHub repository—a type of website usually used by software engineers to collaborate on coding projects—to share everything we knew with everyone who might want to know it.

This was critical for lowering the activation energy for anyone who wanted to join the effort… By the end of the first week, prototypes were rolling in.”

The group communicated frequently with the BIDMC Institutional Review Board, “whose assistance and prompt response were vital for cutting through red tape,” according to Dr. Arnaout. “We also made our IRB-approved protocol available online.” The team was informed by BIDMC’s technological ventures division that the evaluation and feedback they were offering to manufacturers would not be considered intellectual property, eliminating any time-consuming ownership disputes.”

This encounter taught me five things:

  1. Identify the goal, which Dr. Arnaout describes as “a straightforward, obvious, and clear uniting aim for the entire squad.”
  2. Establish behavior norms. This was accomplished at BIDMC “primarily through dialogues, repeating of the basic idea, and personal experience,” according to Dr. Arnaout. “Discussions frequently began or finished with an overt acknowledgment of the desire to go it on its own… and a realization that we would not succumb to certain desire.”
  3. Make use of your knowledge. “In standard situations, the clinical research office at BIDMC would have treated documentation that the researchers might have treated one.”
  4. Promote free and straightforward communications, “by removing the friction of information gatekeeping,” according to Dr. Arnaout.
  5. Maintain an optimistic attitude

“Perhaps we all can take the opportunity afforded by this trying time to improve how we meet our everyday challenges,” said Dr. Arnaout. “By doing so, we might find ourselves further along, more capable, and better prepared for when the next crisis inevitably hits.”