Rutgers researchers solve COVID-19 testing supply problem

Lynne Adkins
May 29, 2020 - 1:31 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As the number of COVID-19 tests increases, so does the amount of material needed to handle them. Researchers at Rutgers University have discovered a way to keep up with demand.

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After the coronavirus swab test is administered, it has to be stored and transported to a lab for processing.

Dr. Martin Blaser, director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine at Rutgers, says the swabs are normally stored in vials containing a virus transport medium.

That solution is now in high demand, but Blaser’s team has found that using a saline solution works just as well — and it’s cheaper.

“There are certain ingredients that are  necessary, and if you don’t have it, you are stuck. So this bypasses that as well,” Blaser said.

“This technique can be used testing all over the U.S. and all over the world. It’s not the kind of thing people should make up at home and do. It’s a laboratory technique. It’s not a big step, it’s just a small step to make it easier and less expensive to do this kind of test.”

He says the phosphate-buffered saline is a simple salt solution found in hospitals and labs around the world.