There is currently increasing interest internationally in deploying robotic applications for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) testing, as these can help to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus to health care staff and patients. We provide an overview of key recent developments in this area. We argue that, although there is some potential for deploying robots to help with SARS-CoV-2 testing, the potential of patient-facing applications is likely to be limited. This is due to the high costs associated with patient-facing functionality, and risks of potentially adverse impacts on health care staff work practices and patient interactions. In contrast, back-end laboratory-based robots dealing with sample extraction and amplification, that effectively integrate with established processes, software, and interfaces to process samples, are much more likely to result in safety and efficiency gains. Consideration should therefore be given to deploying these at scale.


┬ęKathrin Cresswell, Sandeep Ramalingam, Aziz Sheikh. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 12.08.2020. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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Cresswell, K., Ramalingam, S. & Sheikh, A. 2020, 'Can Robots Improve Testing Capacity for SARS-CoV-2?', Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(8), article no: e20169. https://doi.org/10.2196/20169

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Last updated: 17 June 2022
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