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. Thousands of samples are then mixed together and the results are put into a genomic sequencing machine. The sequence generated from this mixture 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.