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British scientists develop ceiling-mounted COVID-19 infection detector

June 15, 2021
British scientists say they have developed a gadget that can detect COVID-19 infection in just 15 minutes. — Courtesy photo
British scientists say they have developed a gadget that can detect COVID-19 infection in just 15 minutes. — Courtesy photo

LONDON — British scientists say they have developed a gadget that can detect COVID-19 infection in just 15 minutes.

The device developed by scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Durham University is slightly larger than a smoke alarm and can be placed on the ceiling.

Early studies have shown the device has an accuracy of 98-100 percent.

The sensor, made by Roboscientific, works by detecting chemicals produced by the skin or present in the breath of those infected with coronavirus.

The sensor can identify the virus from changes in the volatile organic compounds (VOC) that make up the body odor — generating an odor fingerprint.

The study tested devices with organic semiconducting (OSC) sensors, which could potentially be used as a COVID-19 screening tool.

“These results are really promising and demonstrate the potential for using this technology as a rapid, non-invasive test with incredible accuracy. However, further testing is required to confirm if these results can be replicated in real-world settings,” said Professor James Logan, Head of the Department of Disease Control at LSHTM, who led the study.

“If these devices are successfully developed for use in public places, they could be affordably and easily scaled up. They also could protect people against future disease outbreaks, with the capability to develop sensor arrays to detect other diseases within a number of weeks,” he said.


June 15, 2021
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