The COVID-19 pandemic will forever be associated with unprecedented lockdowns and inconveniences such as wearing masks in public. And that’s largely because health experts had no idea exactly where the SARS-CoV-2 virus was lurking, and how risky crowded settings such as workplaces, classrooms, and public transportation were.
But what if an easy-to-use, mobile device could detect, in real time, SARS-CoV-2 in a given space? That would give people confidence to go maskless, if no virus were floating around, or take precautions like wearing a mask or avoid the setting altogether if the virus was detected.
Researchers at Washington University St. Louis report in Nature Communications that they have done just that, with a prototype device about the size of a microwave that can pick up signs of SARS-CoV-2 in about five minutes.