Covid-19 Detecting Pendant Invented by Yale Researchers

Covid-19 Detecting Pendant Invented by Yale Researchers
Researchers at Yale University have created a pendant that detects Covid particles. Credit: Dr. Jodi Sherman, Yale School of Public Health

Soon, you may have a device that detects the presence of Covid-19 in your environment, allowing you to know definitively whether or not you have been exposed to the virus.

This might be one way to lessen the constant worry that many are subject to as a result especially of the Omicron variant, which is so much more easily transmissible.

The new technology, developed by Dr. Bob Stout at the Yale School of Public Health, will allow the public to also be more proactive – instead of waiting to find out if you have been infected after a contact tells us that they are positive, we can know for ourselves and take appropriate action immediately, thereby slowing down the transmission of the contagious variant.

This new technology may also help the current backlog in testing as those who know for certain that they have not been exposed will not feel the need to test “just in case.”’Although many states now have smartphone apps to notify us when we may have been exposed, that system must be opted into by each individual person.

Now, researchers from Yale University’s Schol of Health have developed an easy way to detect the virus that is as easy as a clip-on pin or pendant that hands from a necklace. The device can detect low levels of the SARS-COV-2 in the environment, according to its creators, who wrote about their invention in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters, published on January 11.

There already are large, expensive air sampling machines that can detect the virus in the air, which are normally expelled from infected individuals when they cough, sneeze speak, or even just breathe normally.

However, the Yale device represents a major step forward in the fight to stop the transmission of the virus in that it is portable and gives readings far sooner than any individual could possibly hear from a contact that they had tested positive.

Scientists at Yale’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and School of Public Health created what they call the “Fresh Air Clip,” measuring a mere one inch in diameter, which collects air samples on a film inside the device. As an added benefit, it can be 3D-printed and doesn’t even need a power source.

“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,” says the study’s author and chip creator Krystal Godri Pollitt.

Pollitt is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health and a Yale chemical and environmental engineering professor.

“The Fresh Air clip serves to identify exposure events early, allowing for rapid action to be taken to get tested or quarantine, preventing viral spread should the participant not have had this early detection of exposure,” she adds in the Yale University press release.

Covid-19 detecting pendant has already been tested in real life

The device has undergone real-world testing in some of the most likely places that the virus may be circulating, with 62 subjects wearing the badge in places including homeless shelters, health care facilities, and restaurants.

Additional subjects wore them as part of their daily activities which included shopping and exercising, from January to May of 2021.

Study participants simply wore the badge for five consecutive days while they were at work and taking part in their normal activities.

The film inside the badge – much like the film that is used in employees’ badges where radioactivity is present – was tested for the presence of the virus. Significantly, the devices did detect the virus five different times – and at much lower levels than is needed to infect a human being.

Four of the incidences occurred while the subject was working in a restaurant and one was from a worker at a homeless shelter.

Pollitt told USA TODAY “The clip is intended to help prevent viral spread and offer guidance on where additional infectious disease control measures are needed.”
In addition, the badges could be tested as often as once per day – which might itself bring infection rates down. Plus, the testing could be done right at the worksite in question.

Yale is now using their Fresh Air Clips in more studies being undertaken at health care facilities in Connecticut. The researchers hope to roll out the badges to the public at some point in the future.

“We are keen to expand use of the Fresh Air Clip and are exploring how best to scale application in workplaces, schools and with community members,” Pollitt noted.

“We are currently using the Fresh Air Clip to monitor airborne viral exposures in high-risk settings and have risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission but also another common respiratory virus, such as influenza and rhinovirus.”