Face mask that can light up when it detects coronavirus in development

The pandemic is possibly on its waning phase with the number of cases that might reduce in the coming days eventually. With this being said, we can see governments relaxing the lockdowns and the regulations. Therefore, people will be coming flooding the streets as most have a tough situation being in their homes. When such a thing happens, it is assured everyone would have protective wearings while out in the streets. Therefore, masks will definitely the most sought after protective wearing by most of the population. This essential part has led scientists to find coronavirus directly in the masks, which will able to diagnose and protect people at the earliest.

Back in 2014, researchers from MIT and Harvard designed sensors that are able to detect Ebola virus in a piece of paper. Now, researchers are on the way to modifying these sensors in a way to identify the coronavirus causing the pandemic. The team’s idea is to produce a fluorescent signal whenever a person coughs or sneezes or breathes the SARS-CoV-2. This will enable us to correct the flaws that other screaming methods like checking temperatures.

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The researchers say the findings are in its early stages, but the results seem to be promising. Moreover, the teams are also on the way to detect the virus from the saliva samples. The team first did the experiment on a piece of paper that was able to detect the many other viruses. Then they found this also be duplicated in other materials like quartz, plastic, etc. The team’s idea is placing a sensor that consists of genetic materials, either the DNA or the RNA. This binds to the virus and produces the fluorescent reaction.

This is freeze-dried into a material called lyophilized that protects the genetic material for ages. On contact with the moisture and the virus, the sensor gets activated. These sensors detect the virus from the genetic material and give the fluorescent reaction. This reaction can be detected using a fluorimeter, which costs less than a dollar. The team also has on having an alternative idea to develop color-changing sensors.

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One of the advantages is the method is that it saves time for testing. While conventional testing kits taking 24 hours for detection of the virus, this just takes a few hours for identifying the virus. Moreover, conventional kits cost about $36 to $51, whereas these makes are way cheaper being only $1 in cost. Therefore, these are also more economical, considering the conventional methods. Globally, checking the temperature is the method of identifying people with COVID-19 in public places. This can be faulty and miss a lot of people with the disease because people who are asymptomatic or are in the initial stages do not have temperatures. But these sensors will able to detect such people too in a large population. In fact, it will be more advantageous as the mask directly detects the virus and saves time. This will enable physicians to directly start the treatment protocols that will save a lot of lives. Further development and testing can see this technology soon out on the streets, saving lives.

Source: Business Insider

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