In the last two years, there hasn’t been a verifiable way of knowing if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 until you actually catch the virus.
Now, researchers at Yale University have come up with a clip-on device that could alert you to possible exposure in the air around you, even if it’s at low levels.
The new study, which was published in Environmental Science and Technology Letters, uses a small 3D-printed air sample to collect samples from the surrounding air on a film, that then determines if the virus is present.
Notably, the inch-wide device doesn’t require a power source, enabling it to be used by anyone on the go.
“The Fresh Air Clip is a wearable device that can be used to assess exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the air. With this clip we can detect low levels of virus copies that are well below the estimated SARS-CoV-2 infectious dose,” explained the study’s author, Krystal Godri Pollitt.
It is “easy-to-use, non-invasive, and low-cost,” the description writes on Yale’s website.
She believes that the clip could be used to spot exposure events early, so that affected persons can be tested and quarantined before spreading the virus to even more people.
The study saw 62 test subjects wear the device for five consecutive days between January and May 2021, before the film was checked for exposure to the virus.
Scientists found that five of the subjects had been exposed to COVID-19, though the detected levels were below the amount needed to infect a person.
“The clip is intended to help prevent viral spread and offer guidance on where additional infectious disease control measures are needed,” Pollitt told USA Today.
According to iNews, going forward, the researchers hope they can further develop the device to alert users in real-time, instead of needing to be tested in a laboratory at a later date.
The team hopes the use of the clip can be scaled up for use in places where many people gather, such as offices, schools, and community areas, where real-time readings will be crucial to stopping a super-spreader event.
[via USA Today and iNews, cover image via Yale School of Public Health / Krystal Godri Pollitt]