Instant Covid sensor could prevent outbreaks

An instant Covid-19 sensor made in Australia could help transform day-to-day management of the pandemic, protecting frontline workers and the wider community.

The new sensor can reportedly detect the presence of tiny amounts of the Covid-19 virus and its variants and, is said to be able to deliver results within a minute providing the all-clear for someone to enter their work environment or alert them if they need to undertake a medical Covid test and self-isolate.

The successful prototype is now being further developed by Melbourne-based biomedical start-up Soterius in partnership with RMIT, MIP Diagnostics, the Burnet Institute, D+I and Vestech, towards commercial release early 2022.

The technology 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.

“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,” says Soterius co-founder Dr Alasdair Wood.

“Importantly, one sensor can detect up to eight viral strains and our technology can be easily adapted to detect new variants or novel viruses as they emerge.

“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.”

Prototype tests conducted at RMIT, in partnership with Burnet Institute, reportedly reveal the Soterius Scout biosensor detects SARS-CoV-2 spike protein fragments with impressive accuracy and no false positives.

The technology can detect Covid-19 even if someone is asymptomatic.

It’s said that trials also show the sensor has 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.

“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,” says RMIT project leader Professor Sharath Sriram, adding that the recent lockdowns show that “Covid-19 is not going away any time soon and we need smart solutions to help us detect the virus and contain outbreaks”.

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