The COVID-19 virus has taken over the world and caused a global lockdown. The hardest part about Coronavirus is that it is hard to detect as it doesn’t show any symptom in patients until two weeks from them being infected, and patients can still spread the virus among people they come in contact with. However, researchers are working on a device that could soon make it possible to detect a COVID-19 patient using a smartphone.
It is being reported that COVID-19 detection could soon become quite easy. As easy as coughing or sneezing into a smartphone. A US-based research team is said to be developing a new sensor that could be attached to a smartphone and tell if a user is infected with COVID-19 within 60 seconds.
The sensor could potentially cost as low as £45, and it will be available within three months. Professor Massood Tabib-Azar, an engineer at the University of Utah in the US, is the Project Leader for the development of the upcoming sensor. He said that the project was started twelve months ago and was originally designed to detect the deadly Zika virus, but has been modified to detect Coronavirus.
The prototype sensor is just one-inch-wide and communicates with a smartphone via Bluetooth or the charging port. If someone blows, coughs, or sneezes into the sensor, it would be able to notify via an app if they are infected with the COVID-19 virus. If the virus is present, DNA strands in the sensor are bound to its protein, and it triggers an electrical resistance, signaling a positive result.
Professor Massood Tabib-Azar said that the sensor could display a color to indicate the presence of COVID-19 so that the result can be viewed with a naked eye. He also said that the sensor is reusable as it destroys the previous saliva sample using a small charge of electric current. He said that such a sensor could be placed in everyone’s hand if it is manufactured at scale.
The team said that they are also working on a way to send the results to authorized health agencies. This will make it easier for governments around the world to accurately indicated COVID-19 hotspots, which can then be used to more effectively contain the virus from spreading further. The app is expected to be ready for a four-week clinical trial by the end of July 2020.
If this sensor turns out to be a success in its clinical trial, all the countries around the world would be interested in it. This solution to find the infection is much easier and non-invasive than the current method that involves collecting a sample of saliva or mucous from the back of the nose.
Once this sensor and the companion app is tied with the COVID-19 contact tracing APIs from Apple and Google, and link it to authorized health agencies around the world, it could become much easier to contain and defeat COVID-19.