MIT, Harvard University develop face mask technology to detect COVID-19 in wearer’s breath

MIT, Harvard University develop face mask technology to detect COVID-19 in wearer’s breath

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In order to make these masks available in large numbers to people during the pandemic, the team is now looking to partner with manufacturers. (Image: Felice Frankel and MIT News Office)

COVID-19 New Face Mask Technology: The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc all over the world, and even though vaccination drives have largely started in most of the countries, the fear of another wave fueled by a different mutation still looms, especially in India where warnings of a third wave are gaining pace. Adherence to COVID-19 appropriate guidelines is still important. Amid this, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed a technology that attempts to make the fight against the pandemic a little stronger. A wearable biosensor technology has been developed by the team through which face masks are able to detect COVID-19 in the breath of the wearer.

The study has been published in the Nature Biotechnology journal.

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According to the researchers, the biosensors were attached to standard KN95 face masks to help in detection of the virus, which the team said happened quickly. The sensors can be activated by the users with a button and results are reflected with a readout strip in a span of 90 minutes. The accuracy levels of the biosensor are being touted to be the same as the RT-PCR tests being conducted for COVID-19.

The study’s co-author Peter Nguyen said that they had brought a whole lab into a small sensor that would work with any mask, and added that the technology brought together the accuracy of the PCR tests, which are being used as standard COVID-19 tests globally, and the speed and low cost of the rapid antigen tests, which give out quick results but are less accurate than the RT-PCR tests.

The biosensor can also be programmed and integrated into other garments so that on-the-go detection of dangerous pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, toxins and chemical agents, can take place. With this, many scientists, healthcare staff, first responders and military personnel, who could be exposed to dangerous pathogens, might be saved due to timely detection.

In order to make these masks available in large numbers to people during the pandemic, the team is now looking to partner with manufacturers.

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