It has been over 2 whole years since the inception of the Coronavirus that, as we all know, is the primary virus to cause one of the longest pandemics in human history. While health experts are now saying that the COVID-19 pandemic is gradually turning into an endemic, it is still spreading like wildfire across various regions. Now, to help people detect their exposure to the Coronavirus in indoor environments, a team of researchers has developed a tiny wearable device that can detect Coronavirus and other similar viruses in the air. Other than that, researchers in the US have also developed a COVID-19 test kit that can detect and give the result
Researchers Develop Fresh Air Clip Wearable and Harmony COVID-19 Test
The researchers from the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) assessed that even with good hygiene, masks, and social distancing in public places, scientists sometimes detect the existence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which primarily causes COVID-19, in indoor environments. And citing this concern, a team of researchers led by Krystal Godri Pollitt, an assistant professor of epidemiology at YSPH, developed the Fresh Air Clip.
“The Fresh Air Clip is a wearable device that can be used to assess exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the air. With this clip, we can detect low levels of virus that are well below the estimated SARS-CoV-2 infectious dose,” said Krystal Godri Pollitt in a statement.
The team shared its development report and described the Fresh Air Clip in a paper that was recently published in the American Chemical Society journal, Environmental Science and Technology. The team believes that the Fresh Air Clip could help many frontline workers to detect exposure to COVID-19 early and take the necessary steps to reduce its spread at the right time.
Previously researchers used active air sampling devices, which are usually large, expensive, and non-portable devices, to detect airborne SAR-CoV-2 in indoor settings. However, with the Fresh Air Clip, Pollitt and her team aim to offer a small, lightweight, and inexpensive solution to detect COVID-19 at an individual level.
“The Fresh Air clip serves to identify exposure events early, alerting people to get tested or quarantine. The clip is intended to help prevent viral spread, which can occur when people do not have this kind of early detection of exposure,” the lead researcher further added.
Coming to the working of the Fresh Air Clip, the device is designed to detect virus-bearing aerosols that deposit on a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) surface. The team tested the Fresh Air Clip using a surrogate virus that is similar to COVID-19. The device was able to detect the virus on the PDMS surface using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) protocol.
To further test out the Fresh Air Clip, the researchers distributed 62 units of the wearable to willing volunteers, ranging from restaurant workers to homeless shelter staff. They wore the device for five days, following which the researchers discovered that the highest viral loads were detected by two of the devices worn by restaurant workers.
These results showed that the Fresh Air Clip can be used as an initial screening tool to detect COVID-19 in indoor settings and help people take the necessary steps to prevent its spread. Krystal Godri Pollitt says that as the Fresh Air Clips “are easy-to-use, non-invasive, and low-cost”, it is easy to scale up its production and make it available to the public soon.
Now, coming to the Harmony COVID-19 test kit, it has been developed by researchers at the University of Washington to offer a rapid COVID-19 testing experience as compared to the RTPCR test. While general RTPCR tests can take several hours to detect COVID-19 and provide the results of an affected individual, the Harmony kit can provide the result in just 20 minutes.
According to the researchers, the Harmony test kit uses a PCR-like method to detect the SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome in a nasal swab sample. It uses a low-cost, small detector to measure the results. The detection kit is supported by a companion smartphone app, which doctors can use to get the results.
“We designed the test to be low-cost and simple enough that it could be used anywhere. We hope that the low cost will make high-performance testing more accessible locally and around the world,” said Bary Lutz, an associate professor at the University of Washington. So, what do you think of these COVID-19 detection tools? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.