UCLA SwabSeq | COVID-19 Diagnostic Test

UCLA Swab-Seq COVID-19 Diagnostic Test

Swab-Seq is a novel technology developed by UCLA faculty in collaboration with colleagues at Octant that delivers testing at the appropriate scale, cost and turn-around time. This technology, when combined with effective public health measures, can control outbreaks of COVID-19. Swab-Seq uses the power of next generation sequencing technology to simultaneously test thousands of samples and identify which samples contain coronavirus. The advantage of Swab-Seq is that it is highly accurate, scalabile and inexpensive. A single lab can perform 10s or 100s of thousands of tests at a very low cost. The core of the Swab-Seq technology received FDA Emergency Use Authorization approval in November 2020.

Our Current Programs

The UCLA Swab-Seq Lab was created to deploy this technology to the public. The lab has several testing programs:

  • Testing for Universities/Schools/Colleges using the Swab-Seq Saliva Test
  • Testing for Healthcare Workers and Patients in Healthcare Settings using the Swab-Seq Nasal Swab Test
  • Testing to Support Research Studies

Testing Logistics and Information

UCLA has authorized the UCLA Swab-Seq Lab to provide testing at cost for these programs.  
The current prices for Swab-Seq, assuming a minimum volume of testing, is:

  • Swab-Seq Saliva Test - $20 (best for educational institutions and workplaces)
  • Swab-Seq Swab Test - $30 (best for health care settings)

There is an additional fee of $2.70 to utilize our integrated IT platform. This platform is enabled by PreciseMDX which manages test collection, tracking, reporting and return of results. 
We have also developed V-seq which is a novel technology for whole-genome virus sequencing. We obtain full genomic sequence on our SARS-CoV-2 positive samples to identify new variants of the virus.
Please contact us if you are interested in testing with Swab-Seq by filling out this FORM.


The SARS-Cov-2 virus that causes COVID-19 is an RNA virus. Fortunately, over the past 25 years, there have been tremendous advances in genomic sequencing technology, ever since the start of the Human Genome Project and these advances provide us with tremendously efficient and cost-effective ways to measure RNA. Swab-Seq directly leverages these technological advances to perform diagnostic testing.

Swab-Seq works by adding a barcode that acts as a unique "sticker" to each sample that is collected. All of the samples are then mixed together and the results are put into a genomic sequencing machine. The resulting mixture contains 10s or 100s of thousands of sequences and the sequence generated contains information from all of these samples. By looking at the barcodes or “stickers” in the resulting sequence, the technology can identify which samples contain evidence of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Full details of the Swab-Seq technology are available in our preprint:

"Swab-Seq: A high-throughput platform for massively scaled up SARS-CoV-2 testing"
doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.08.04.20167874
Joshua S. Bloom, Eric M. Jones, Molly Gasperini, Nathan B. Lubock, Laila Sathe, Chetan Munugala, A. Sina Booeshaghi, Oliver F. Brandenberg,  Longhua Guo, Scott W. Simpkins, Isabella Lin, Nathan LaPierre, Duke Hong, Yi Zhang, Gabriel Oland, Bianca Judy Choe, Sukantha Chandrasekaran, Evann E. Hilt, Manish J. Butte, Robert Damoiseaux, Aaron R. Cooper, Yi Yin, Lior Pachter, Omai B. Garner, Jonathan Flint, Eleazar Eskin, Chongyuan Luo, Sriram Kosuri, Leonid Kruglyak, Valerie A. Arboleda.

The full Swab-Seq protocol is shown in the following videos:

UCLA Swab-Seq Pre PCR     UCLA Swab-Seq Post PCR  





The Swab-Seq lab also genomic sequences the positive samples to identify new SARS-CoV-2 variants. We have developed a novel SARS-CoV-2 sequencing protocol called V-seq.
Details of V-seq are available in the following preprint:

“Rapid cost-effective viral genome sequencing by V-seq”
doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.08.15.252510
Longhua Guo, James Boocock,  Jacob M. Tome, Sukantha Chandrasekaran, Evann E. Hilt, Yi Zhang, Laila Sathe, Xinmin Li, Chongyuan Luo,  Sriram Kosuri,  Jay A. Shendure,  Valerie A. Arboleda,  Jonathan Flint,  Eleazar Eskin, Omai B. Garner,  Shangxin Yang,  Joshua S. Bloom,  Leonid Kruglyak,  Yi Yin


"UCLA's $10 Test Is Helping SoCal Schools Monitor Viruses as They Reopen" | dot.LA

"UCLA Health scientists pioneer faster and cheaper COVID-19 testing technology" | UCLA Health News


Fox News | Fox40Jackson | HealthNewsDigest | Earth Info Now | Voiceofthehwys | Univision 2

Frequently Asked Questions

I am interested in testing with Swab-Seq.  How would I deliver samples to UCLA?
There are two options to get samples to the UCLA Swab-Seq testing lab. They can either be delivered directly to UCLA via courier or sent through Fedex.

What does Swab-Seq provide in terms of supplies?
Swab-Seq provides and ships the salvia or nasal swab kits directly to your organization. The organization is responsible for returning them.

I am interested in testing with Swab-Seq. Do I need to be located near the UCLA campus?
No. You can be anywhere as long as you can send your samples through Fedex.

What types of tests does Swab-Seq support?
We support both a saliva test and a nasal swab test. The saliva test is ideal for universities/schools/workplaces and the nasal swab test is ideal for health care workers and patient care settings.

What support for information technology is provided by Swab-Seq?
We have partnered with PreciseMDX which is a fully integrated system to provide test scheduling, collection site administration, test results tracking and return of test results to patients.  

Does Swab-Seq bill insurance?
No, we do not bill insurance at this time. However, Precise MDX gathers all information that you would need to bill your patients. 

Do the Swab-Seq tests need to be administered by a healthcare professional?
No. Anyone the organization is comfortable with can oversee the specimen collection. 

Do the Swab-Seq samples need to be on ice?
Yes, the samples need to remain on ice after collection and during transport. Any storage that allows the samples to stay at 4-6C will suffice. 

Can Swab-Seq help us set up our testing site?
Swab-Seq can provide suggestions for and guidance around testing. We can also connect you with organizations already using our technology so that you can get the help you need. However, we are only providing kits and results at this time, we do not deploy a team to your location.

Who developed Swab-Seq?
The development of Swab-Seq is a collaboration between the Department of Human Genetics and the Department of Computational Medicine, UCLA Health and Octant.

Under what regulatory authority is the Swab-Seq test performed?
This is a laboratory developed test that is an nucleic acid amplification Test (NAAT) followed by sequencing to detect the virus. We perform RT-PCR using molecularly barcoded primer pairs unique to the SARS-CoV2 virus. The presence of the virus is then detected by next-generation sequencing technology. The UCLA Swab-Seq COVID-19 Testing Laboratory is certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA-88) as qualified to perform high complexity clinical laboratory testing. The CLIA identification number of the laboratory is 05D2198285.

How to Partner 

If you are interested in either the Swab-Seq technology or supporting Swab-Seq through philanthropy, please contact Eleazar Eskin (eeskin@cs.ucla.edu.) If you are interested in testing with Swab-Seq, please fill out the following FORM and we will contact you.