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UArizona scientists assemble COVID-19 collection kits

Posted at 9:27 AM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 12:36:11-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Technicians, graduate students, and lab directors at the University of Arizona have begun assembling COVID-19 collection kits.

Staff begun assembling the kits over the weekend, by Monday March 23rd, staff had already assembled more than 1,600 kits.

Dr. David Harris, who is leading the project, told KGUN9 that while testing for COVID-19 is extremely important, it's the collection kits that vital to get to as many medical professionals as possible.

“It allows you to go out once you’ve identified someone, collect a sample from them, preserve the sample and then take it for testing and see if they’re actually infected or not," said Dr. Harris.

Dr. Harris said that while assembling the collection kits is fairly easy, it's finding the materials for those kits that's the difficult part.

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“The difficulty is in locating the components," said Dr. Harris.

Here is how the collection kits are assembled, according to Dr. Harris.

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"It’s essentially pre-packaged sterile swabs that are used to just swab your nose and throat to see if you have the virus. It consists of two with a special buffer in it that preserves the sample. A paper insert to know who gave us the sample, and a biohazard bag to put everything in, so there’s no rocket science there," he said.

Despite already making nearly 2,000 of these collection kits over the weekend, Dr. Harris said staff plan on assembling even more in the next two weeks.

“We continue to make kits. We’re making 5,000 this week and another 5,000 next week," said Dr. Harris.

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Dr. Harris told KGUN9 they plan on sending the collection kits to UA Campus Health, the Pima County Department of Health, and Banner. He said Coconino County Department of Health and Carondelet have requested some of their kits.