New Sensor can Detect COVID-19 and Variants through People’s Breath

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This new Sensor can detect covid-19 even for asymptomatic patients and prevent further outbreaks and protect densely populated communities.

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) has collaborated with partners including Australian biomedical start-up Soterius to develop a biosensor, which can detect the presence of tiny amounts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants.

New Sensor can detect COVID-19
Credit: Soterius

According to the team, the sensor is reliable, accurate and non-invasive and delivers results within a minute. It can alert the person and the nearby people if they need to undertake a medical COVID test and self-isolate. The product is said to be available commercially by early 2022.

The technology promises to provide fast results in densely populated areas, where an immediate diagnosis is a key to reduce its spread. It will be manufactured in Australia and will initially be delivered to hospitals, with future applications in other essential worker and high-traffic settings including aged care, quarantine hotels, airports, and schools. However, the key here is to understand the technology for its use in India and for healthcare decision-makers to collect its benefits for the Indian population.

Soterius co-founder Dr Alasdair Wood said emerging environmental viral sensors were bulky, energy-intensive, and can detect only one type of virus.

“Our biosensor is so small it can fit on a personal fob card and it’s easy to use — you just need to swipe your card over a reader at checkpoints,” Wood said.

“Importantly, one sensor can detect up to 8 viral strains and our technology can be easily adapted to detect new variants or novel viruses as they emerge.” He added. “We hope the Soterius Scout biosensor could be a vital tool for managing COVID-19, providing accurate early detection to prevent outbreaks and avoid the need for future lockdowns.”

According to the trials, the sensor also has the potential to become a top-performing diagnostic tool for respiratory illnesses and it is now being scaled to detect other diseases such as influenza and MERS.

The sensor harnesses nanotechnology-enabled biosensors developed by RMIT researchers at its leading-edge Micro Nano Research Facility. The biosensors technology is covered in a patent application filed by RMIT, with the integrated system the subject of a patent application subsequently filed by Soterius.

“COVID-19 is not going away any time soon and we need smart solutions to help us detect the virus and contain outbreaks,” said project leader Professor Sharath Sriram.

“It is exciting to see our platform sensor technology at the core of this smart new solution for the management of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses in workplaces, to help protect our frontline workers and the wider community.”

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