You may soon be able to get a handheld device to help alert you to possible COVID-19 exposition.
Today, we typically only learn about COVID exposure when we find out that someone we’ve been in contact with has tested positive or our own symptoms surface. Or maybe you have scrambled for evidence at home or queued for a lab-processed COVID test. Also, many states have smartphone apps that can alert us to potential exposure, but that requires people to opt in.
It’s not yet available to everyone, but Yale University researchers have developed an easy-to-use device that can detect low levels of SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the air around you. according to to research published January 11 in the peer-reviewed online magazine Environmental science and technology lettering.
Until now, large and expensive air sampling devices have been used to detect virus droplets in the air, usually from infected people coughing, sneezing, talking and breathing.
In an effort to make air sampling more accessible, experts from the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the School of Public Health designed the Fresh Air Clip, a 3D-printed air sampler that measures approximately 1 inch. in diameter that collects air samples on a film inside the badge-shaped device. It has no power source.
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“Fresh Air Clip is a portable device that can be used to assess exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the air. With this clip, we can detect low levels of copies of the virus that are well below the estimated infectious dose of SARS -CoV-2.” said study author and chip creator Krystal Godri Pollitt, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health and a Yale professor of chemical and environmental engineering, in a press release about the investigation.
“The Fresh Air clip serves to identify exposure events early, allowing quick action to be taken to get tested or quarantine, preventing viral spread in case the participant did not have this early detection of exposure” , He said.
The researchers had 62 test subjects wear the clip between January and May 2021. Some wore the clip when working in restaurants, homeless shelters, and health care facilities, while others wore it during daily activities like shopping. and exercise.
The participants were asked to wear the clip at work for five consecutive days. The film within the clips was then analyzed for the presence of the virus.
The researchers found evidence of COVID in five clips — four worn by restaurant workers, one by a person working at a homeless shelter — and detected levels of the virus below the amount that infects someone.
“The clip is intended to help prevent viral spread and offer guidance on where additional infectious disease control measures are needed,” Godri Pollitt told USA TODAY.
Researchers are using Fresh Air Clips in additional studies at health care facilities in Connecticut and hope to make them available to the public in the future.
While the Yale researchers had test subjects wear the clips for five days, the film inside could be reviewed more frequently if a restaurant, hospital, shelter or other business wanted to, Godri Pollitt said. And testing can also be done on site.
“We are eager to expand the use of Fresh Air Clip and are exploring how best to scale the app in workplaces, schools, and with community members,” he said. “We are currently using the Fresh Air Clip to monitor airborne viral exposures in high-risk settings and are at risk for transmission of SARS-CoV-2, but also other common respiratory viruses, such as influenza and rhinovirus.”
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism