The testing swabs were loaded onto C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft and delivered to Memphis, Tennessee for nationwide distribution.
- The US Air Force has flown roughly a million coronavirus test swabs to the US from Italy to support domestic testing, Air Mobility Command said Friday.
- The US purchased the swabs from Italian company Copan Diagnostics and flew them to the US aboard C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft.
- There have been two missions so far, both this week, and more are projected for the future.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
As the US pushes to ramp up coronavirus testing, the US Air Force has flown roughly a million testing swabs to the US from overseas, and more missions are expected, Air Mobility Command said Friday.
Earlier this week, Air Force personnel loaded 13 pallets containing 500,000 COVID-19 testing swabs onto a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft at Aviano Air Base in Italy.
The swabs were delivered to a location in Memphis, Tennessee, where they were turned over to FedEx for distribution. Defense One first reported this delivery Wednesday.
The testing swabs are being delivered in support of ongoing Department of Health and Human Services operations to stem the spread of the coronavirus which first appeared in China but has since spread around the world.
The US has so far reported more than 16,000 cases and over 200 deaths.
Following the first shipment, AMC made another delivery of around 500,000 coronavirus testing swabs on Thursday. The command said that "additional missions are projected to meet DHHS requirements."
"Through its Active, Reserve, and Air National Guard components, Air Mobility Command stands ready to do everything possible to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and ensure we continue executing rapid global mobility operations," AMC said in a statement.
Air Mobility Command said that crews, who were "aware their efforts were directly impacting American lives," rushed to get the supplies to the US and managed to do so two to three days earlier than planned.
The swabs that are being delivered to the US from Italy are an important part of the testing process.
"The swabs are sent out to the different medical facilities. They are used to test patients, and then they go to a lab that has the right equipment to analyze the swabs and see if there's coronavirus on a swab or not," Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs, the Joint Staff surgeon, said Wednesday.
While there are companies in the US producing swabs, testing swabs are also being purchased from overseas to increase capability. Those flown in by AMC were produced by the Italian company Copan Diagnostics.
"Italian ingenuity is helping to save lives around the world," AMC said in a statement. "As the US continues to buy these swabs, AMC is honored to help transport our Italian partner's generous support to help the American people.
Italy, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus, has more than 47,000 cases and even more deaths than China, which lost more than 3,200 people to the outbreak.