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Wearable 'Fresh Air Clip' Can Detect When User Comes Into Contact With Covid

by : Hannah Smith on :
Wearable 'Fresh Air Clip' Can Detect When User Comes Into Contact With Covid
Wearable 'Fresh Air Clip' Can Detect When User Comes Into Contact With Covid (Yale School of Public Health/Krystal Godri Pollitt/Alamy)

Researchers at Yale have developed a wearable device that could help detect when users are exposed to Covid-19.

According to a study conducted by a team at the Yale School of Public Health, the clip-on device is able to pick up low levels of the virus in the air, thereby allowing users to know they've possibly been exposed to the virus before they become infectious to other people.

It works by picking up virus-laden aerosols that are then deposited on a chemical surface, with the clip capable of detecting Covid-19 levels 'well below the estimated SARS-CoV-2 infectious dose'.

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Fresh Air Clip (Yale School of Public Health)
Fresh Air Clip (Yale School of Public Health)

The device is intended to help alert people who may have been exposed to the virus so as to allow them to either quarantine or test, even if the infected person they come into contact with is unaware that they are carrying the virus.

Known as 'passive samplers', the clips were given to a group of Connecticut residents to wear as they went about their daily lives. Of the residents, the clips picked up traces of the virus on 8% of them, predominantly while dining in indoor restaurants, FOX32 reports.

'Our findings demonstrate that PDMS-based passive samplers may serve as a useful exposure assessment tool for airborne viral exposure in real-world high-risk settings and provide avenues for early detection of potential cases and guidance on site-specific infection control protocols that preempt community transmission,' the researchers wrote of their findings, which were published last week in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters.

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They added that the clips would be a low cost alternative to other methods of detecting exposure to the virus, and could be deployed in high-risk settings like hospitals and other frontline services.

Covid-19 particles were detected in restaurants (Alamy)
Covid-19 particles were detected in restaurants (Alamy)
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'The Fresh Air Clips are easy-to-use, non-invasive, and low-cost,' said Krystal Godri Pollitt, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Yale who was involved with the study.

'These features make it easier to scale-up this kind of exposure monitoring for COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses so that the clips can be made available across larger groups of workers in high-risk jobs, such as restaurant servers, health care workers, and teachers.'

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Other devices that perform similar functions, include ViraWarn – a smoke-detector style device that can pick up traces of Covid-19 – which became the first product launched to the public to detect airborne Covid particles last year.

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Hannah Smith

Hannah is a London-based journalist covering news and features for UNILAD. She's especially interested in social and political activism and culture.

Topics: News, Coronavirus