Next to the dearth of PPE supplies triggered by the pandemic, other shortages are also making themselves felt. In the Netherlands, as testing rates increase, it has become clear that nose swabs, too, are rapidly becoming unavailable.
The swabs normally used in the Netherlands are produced in Italy and China, two countries severely impacted by the coronavirus and currently unable to keep up with global demand.
Following a request from the Dutch government, Royal DSM has now started producing the necessary swabs, for the first time. The company said it will produce sufficient swabs to meet the entire country’s testing needs for the next three months, thus eliminating the dependency on international supply chains.
Swiftly slicing through the red tape surrounding such initiatives, the Dutch Ministry of Health, the Landelijk Consortium Hulpmiddelen (LCH), and other local companies and healthcare experts worked together closely with DSM. As a result, the company was able to establish a swab production chain on Dutch soil in two weeks – a process that would normally have taken months or years, the company said. Former chief executive Feike Sijbesma is in charge of overseeing the Netherlands’ testing effort.
The design was developed with DSM’s 3D-printing expertise and scaled-up by injection moulding to produce millions of swabs for test kits in the Netherlands. The swabs are certified by the RIVM - the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment - and full-scale production has started. DSM works with Dutch partners Molded, ECM Europe and Steris to produce, package and sterilize the packaged swabs for the LCH to distribute among test locations across the country.