This robot can swab your nose for COVID-19 testing
In the fight against COVID-19, a number of countries have deployed robots capable of disinfecting surfaces, triaging patients, and maintaining social distance at public places. Now, to aid this work, Taiwanese med-tech start-up Brain Navi has come up with something new - a robot that can automatically take your nasal sample to test for the deadly respiratory disease. Here's more about it.
COVID-19 testing requires unpleasant nasal swab
As many know, the worst thing about COVID-19 testing, apart from testing positive, is dealing with that unpleasant nasal swab. A healthcare worker takes a long stick, with a soft cotton brush on the end, and inserts it a long way up your nose to collect secretions from your nasal cavity, the specimen which has to be tested for the novel coronavirus.
Now, a robot can also perform this task
Given that the testing procedure puts healthcare workers at the risk of contracting COVID-19, Brain Navi created the robot that can autonomously perform the exact specimen extraction process without human assistance. The machine, shaped like a hand, wields the swab from its base, slowly approaches the patient, scans their face to estimate the depth of their nasal cavity, and then gradually inserts the swab.
After a few seconds, it withdraws the swab
While inserting the swab, the robot changes its direction to attain a comfortable angle and then twirls the stick to get hold of a good sample. Once that is done, it gradually retreats the swab and puts it in a sterile tube which can then be taken for analysis. The entire process goes smoothly as the patient rests their head on a metal stand.
Evident advantages, but people will not be convinced easily
Brain Navi says that the robotic sample collector will not just put healthcare workers out of danger but also save their precious time for other more pressing tasks. But, the problem is, nasal swab testing is already incredibly uncomfortable, and giving this task into the hands of a robot, which cannot think for itself (at least as of now), does not drive much confidence.
Also, the whole thing looks pretty scary
There is also no denying that seeing the machine wield that swab and insert it up one's nose is pretty terrifying. It gives that ominous vibe of a killer robot performing a surgery.
Brain Navi is optimistic about the prospects
Despite the fears, Brain Navi is hopeful that its robotic COVID-19 tester will draw takers and help with the safe and effective diagnosis of the disease. The company demonstrated the device at the recent Bio Asia Taiwan 2020 exhibition and is in the process of securing approvals from the US FDA for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and Taiwan's TFDA.