A ‘lollipop’ to replace painful nasal swab test

Rutam V Vora | | | Updated on: Aug 25, 2021
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The chewable, buckle cavity swab device shows an accuracy of 95%

Those getting nervous about taking that annoying and painful nasal swab tests for Covid-19 can heave a sigh of relief as the sample collection is set to become a child’s play.

A medical technology start-up – Test At Home – has replaced the deep nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs with saliva for sample collection, practically replacing a cotton bud with a lollipop.

95% accuracy

TAH recently completed clinical trials on its lollipop-like device that enables individuals to self-collect saliva samples for Covid. The proprietary innovative chewable, buckle cavity swab device has shown around 95 per cent accuracy based on initial clinical data, Vivek Manoharan, one of the founders of the company, told BusinessLine .

The company aims to start trials on children in September.

Even as the NP swabs are considered gold standard for SARS-CoV-2 detection, it poses risk to the healthcare workers involved in sample collection.

Also, the nasal swabbing is painful and inconvenient, even for the self-administered with home-based testing solutions, and also makes it difficult for young kids and other specific patient groups.

“Saliva testing is popular. This device not only helps stimulate consistent and less viscous oral fluids, the experience is thoughtfully designed to produce very minimal to no aerosols during the collection process unlike spit saliva collection,” said Manoharan.

The collected sample can then be sent for various tests, including RT-PCR, rapid antigen tests and even ELISA.

Clinical trials

The company, registered in Singapore and India during 2020, successfully conducted clinical trials on 150 subjects at Nasik between April and June.

“We also found that eight samples that were missed by nasal swab were reported positive through saliva. This is an initial technology and this is our first product. We are awaiting the regulator’s nod for commercial rollout,” said Manoharan.


The production will happen in India through third-party manufacturing, and the cost is estimated to be less than a dollar for a lollipop, which will have a citric acid flavour to enable more saliva secretion.

The company is currently manufacturing 10,000 samples for the government and non-government health agencies as a trial run.

Published on August 25, 2021

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