News 2020: Detecting COVID-19
Detecting COVID-19

Dr. Yong Kim, professor of bioengineering, is the developer of materials used in COVID-19 test kits.

Dr. Yong Kim
Dr. Yong Kim

Dr. Yong K. Kim, chancellor professor in the Department of Bioengineering at UMass Dartmouth, has developed and patented materials and methods to make swabs that are now being used in millions of COVID-19 test kits. The method involves using randomly arranged sea-island bi-component fibers to increase the effectiveness of medical swabs by collecting more materials from patients.

Nearly a decade ago, Dr. Yong and his collaborator Dr. Armand Lewis, an adjunct professor at UMass Dartmouth, advised the Puritan Medical Products for super micro-fiber flocked medical swab. Now, the company has a 20 million flocked swab per month production contract for test kits under the Defense Production Act, according to a CNN report.

“Historically, nasopharyngeal swabs were made from nylon flock fibers,” Kim says. “Puritan’s patented swabs are made from a synthetic bi-component fiber material, which is fibrillated into 36 micro-fibrils after flocking on the tip.” Kim also says Puritan’s HydraFlock® and PurFlock Ultra® nasopharyngeal swabs are both included in the FDA's preferred swab-based types for COVID-19 testing, because it allows for sufficient elution into the accompanying transport medium.

"This medical swab is not an ordinary flock product. Regular flocked swabs are not as efficient; they may not capture enough of the virus particles and could end up with false negatives," he says. “Based on our advice, Puritan developed and patented flocked medical swab (US Patent 8,334,134 and five following US patents).”

Visit the American Flock Association website to learn more.