PodSwab™: Frequently Asked Questions

March 29, 2021



What is PodSwab™? 

Designed to streamline and ease the burden of COVID-19 testing, PodSwab™ consists of 6 mL UTM® Universal Transport Media™ and 5 nasal flocked swabs allowing for up to five different individual samples in each tube. This format is designed for testing groups or pods of people, helping businesses and schools efficiently screen employees and students, saving costs and time. This efficient grouped method of testing is called pooled testing.

UTM® Universal Transport Media™

UTM® Universal Transport Media™ is an FDA-cleared collection and transport system suitable for collection, transport, maintenance, and long-term freeze storage of clinical specimens containing viruses, including COVID-19. The transport medium-filled tube, complete with plastic screw cap, and keeps organisms viable for 48 hours at room or refrigerated temperature.

How Does Sample Pooling Work?


SAMPLE POOLING or Pod Testing is a cost-effective method for screening groups where the expected positivity rate is low.

The concept for pooling samples looks like this:

  1. Samples are collected from a group, or pod of people using one swab per person.
  2. The samples are then combined together into a single tube.
  3. If the pooled test is negative for COVID, then all people in the pod are considered negative.
  4. If a pooled test result is positive, then each person within the pod must be individually retested to determine who was positive.

Is COVID-19 Sample Pooling Backed by Science?

The concept of pooled testing isn’t a novel one— the United States first tried the method out during World War II to screen soldiers for syphilis. It’s an effective tool that not only preserves testing supplies but also saves time.

Pooling COVID sample is backed by scientific studies and the FDA has provided resources for developers and laboratories that would like to better manage resources using pooled testing (Pooled Sample Testing and Screening Testing for COVID-19 | FDA). 

Recent Studies

A Recent Study showed pooled specimen testing can improve testing capacity while reducing reagent and supply needs. The study showed pooling affords better access and a more rapid turnaround time for patient results.

A paper by Sawicki et al (nih.gov), demonstrated that sample/media pool testing could detect up to a single positive sample in a pool of 16 specimens resulting in saving 96 tests .

Another Study Showed the pooling process corresponded to an increase of 4.4 times in laboratory capacity and a significant reduction in the lab’s workload since 77 percent fewer tests were required. Researchers concluded that “swab pooling represents a major alternative for reliable and large-scale screening of SARS-CoV-2 in low prevalence populations”

See Our Post About the Science Around Pooling Strategies

How is PodSwab™ Used? 


Collect the sample using the swab. Avoid touching the swab below the breakpoint.


Remove the cap. With the tube pointed away from the face insert the swab so the breakpoint lines up with the edge of the tube, and bend to break.


Screw the cap on tightly and set aside. Repeat steps 1 and 2 with the rest of the pod until up to 5 individual samples have been collected.


Identify tube with information from each person sampled and follow testing laboratory instructions for shipping tubes for testing.

How Do I Set Up Sample Pooling for Employees or Groups?

Do You Need Help Implement A Pooled Sample Program at Your Workplace?

Contact us! Our Helpful Customer Service Team would be happy to help if you have any questions on how to set up a pooling plan at your facility.

What is the PodSwab™ Part Number?

Where Can I Order PodSwab™?

PodSwab™ Can Be Purchased directly from our online store.

Current Availability

In Stock

Do You Have Other Questions About PodSwab™?

Contact us! Our freindly Customer Service Team would be happy to help if you have any questions about PodSwab™

Does COPAN Have Other COVID-19 Related Products and Information?

Yes, COPAN Provides numerous products for the Collection and Transport of COVID Samples for the Healthcare, Government, and Laboratory sectors sold through distributors. COPAN has compiled a COVID-19 resource page to facilitate answers to some of the frequently asked questions. Here you’ll find easy access to the evolving regulatory guidelines published by the CDC and FDA, COPAN’s distributor part numbers, and other resources about critical products that can be used for collecting, handling, and transporting specimens suspected of COVID-19.

Interested in seeing if PodSwab™ is the right choice for your Pod?

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