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Researchers from Washington University Create Air Monitor that Detects Covid-19 Virus

Air Monitor

In only five minutes, a team of scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have created a real-time air monitor that can identify any SARS-CoV-2 virus variant that is present in a space.

The proof-of-concept device was created by scientists from Washington University’s McKelvey School of Engineering and School of Medicine.  The team consists of Rajan Chakrabarty, the Harold D. Jolley Career Development Associate Professor of energy, environmental, and chemical engineering in McKelvey Engineering, Carla Yuede, an associate professor of psychiatry, and John Cirrito, a professor of neurology at the School of Medicine.

The findings are detailed in a Nature Communications article published on July 10 and explain how the technology functions.

The innovation shows promise as a breakthrough that, when commercially available, could be used in hospitals and healthcare facilities, schools, communal living areas, and other public places to help detect respiratory virus aerosols, including influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), in addition to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

“There is nothing at the moment that tells us how safe a room is,” Cirrito said, in the university’s news release. “If you are in a room with 100 people, you don’t want to find out five days later whether you could be sick or not. The idea with this device is that you can know essentially in real time, or every 5 minutes, if there is a live virus in the air.”

The team coupled its knowledge of biosensing with that of creating equipment that gauge air toxicity. The end product is an air sampler that uses “wet cyclone technology,” as it is known.

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