Case study: saliva collection tubes, Department for Health and Social Care

The Brief: In November 2020, the UK Government were researching saliva collection as an alternative method for testing for COVID-19 instead of throat and nose swabs, a method that’s used for testing against other infectious diseases but hadn’t yet been adopted for COVID in the UK. This was a highly acute need for a specific device that couldn’t be produced by the normal channels because of the strains the pandemic was placing on manufacturers and supply chain processes.

The Challenge: DHSC required a product to assist with saliva collection that could be produced in high volumes, with rapid turnaround, with a very tight specification.

The Supply Source Solution: Working with the DSHC, we finalised technical drawings and specifications of the collection tube that incorporated a specific attached funnel, before engaging with manufacturers. We identified a UK manufacturer and negotiated a production plan that ensured rapid, high-volume turnaround. To address the speed of the solution that was required, we worked with all parties and proposed a temporary, injection moulded component that would allow for immediate production, while a long-term permanent mould was being developed that would enable longer-term high-volume production. Finding a UK manufacturer that was open to these requirements was key to ensuring rapid turnaround and upscaling of production.

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