New major advance against Covid: faced with the threat of an 8th wave, scientists are developing a mask capable of detecting the virus in 10 minutes

This mask would work very well “in poorly ventilated spaces, such as elevators or closed rooms, where the risk of infection is high”.

The scientists of Shanghai Tongji University have created a facial mask which can detect common respiratory viruses, including influenza and coronavirus, in the air as droplets or aerosols. The prototype, presented on September 19 in the magazine Questioncan alert wearers via their mobile devices within 10 minutes whether the targeted pathogens are present in the ambient air.

For this, the research team designed a small sensor with aptamers, which are a type of molecule capable of identifying proteins from pathogens such as antibodies, which they then attached to the mask.

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Works well “where the risk of infection is high”

“Our mask would work very well in poorly ventilated spaces, such as elevators or closed rooms, where the risk of infection is high, said Yin Fang, author of the study. In the future, if a new respiratory virus emerges, they can easily update the sensor design to detect new pathogens.”, he adds. Researchers are already working on how to shorten the detection time.

The respiratory pathogens responsible for Covid and influenza spread through small droplets and aerosols released by infected people when they speak, cough or sneeze. These virus-containing molecules, especially tiny aerosols, can stay suspended in the air for a long time.

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