Air monitor detects COVID-19 variants in 5 minutes


U.S. researchers have developed a real-time monitor that can detect any of the COVID-19 variants in a room in about five minutes, according to a study published in academic journal Nature Communications on Monday.

Researchers at the Washington University developed the device by combining recent advances in aerosol sampling technology and an ultrasensitive biosensing technique.

Integrated with a micro-immunoelectrode biosensor which contains a nanobody that can recognize the spike protein from the SARS‑CoV‑2, the monitor is an air sampler that operates based on the wet cyclone technology.

"Air enters the sampler at very high velocities and gets mixed centrifugally with the fluid that lines the walls of the sampler to create a surface vortex, thereby trapping the virus aerosols. The wet cyclone sampler has an automated pump that collects the fluid and sends it to the biosensor for seamless detection of the virus using electrochemistry," said a news release by the university.

Airborne transmission is a major pathway for COVID-19 infection. "A real-time noninvasive surveillance device that can detect SARS-CoV-2 aerosols directly in the air is a potential solution for infection management strategies and the resumption of normal activities," said the study.

The inexpensive, proof-of-concept device could be used in hospitals and health care facilities, schools and public places to help detect the virus and potentially monitor for other respiratory virus aerosols, such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus.

Widespread adoption of such technology could assist public health officials with implementing rapid disease control measures, said the study.

(With input from Xinhua)

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