Coronavirus: China develops robot for throat swab sampling

The throat swab nucleic acid test is one of the most important diagnostic methods for Covid-19. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (XINHUA) - China has developed an intelligent robot to conduct throat swab sampling for the diagnosis of the coronavirus, to reduce cross-infection risks for medical workers, according to its developer.

The robot was jointly developed by the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Health and the Shenyang Institute of Automation under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The robot consists of a snake-shaped mechanical arm, a binocular endoscope, wireless transmission equipment and a human-computer interaction terminal.

The mechanical arm can ensure precise operation in the throat, and the endoscope can provide high-definition 3D anatomical scenes.

With an advanced industrial wireless network, it can receive real-time instructions and collect throat swabs quickly and gently.

The robot has collected 80 throat swab samples since it was put into operation in Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Health on Feb 28.

Test results showed that the robotic throat swab sampling could achieve high quality results, with a one-time success rate of more than 95 per cent.

It can also help ease pain and reduce the damage to patients during the sampling process.

The throat swab nucleic acid test is one of the most important diagnostic methods for Covid-19.

During the sampling process, the medical staff has to be in close contact with the patient and face a high risk of cross-infection.

In addition, improper collecting methods will affect the quality of the swab and lead to possible false-negative results.

The robot will help prevent cross-infection for medical staff, improve the standardisation of biological sample collection and ensure sample quality, according to its developer.

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