One app could catch 98.5% of all Covid-19 infections. Why is it not available? | American News

TThe world was not prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic – and it still is not. Critical shortages of personal protective equipment and ventilators continue to place healthcare professionals and patients at unnecessary risk. Meanwhile, long wait times for test results contribute to the viral spread.

Yet, throughout this year, promising scientific innovations have been developed that could help reduce the number of deaths until everyone can get vaccinated. So why are they not available?

A Covid test on your smartphone

At the end of September, researchers at MIT announced that they had developed an algorithm capable of accurately detecting Covid-19 infections over the phone.

When participants in their study produced a forced cough, MIT said its artificial intelligence algorithm successfully detected 98.5% of Covid-19 infections in coughing patients and 100% of asymptomatic cases.

If released as an app, the technology could mean instant Covid-19 testing anytime, anywhere. As they wrote in their peer-reviewed article: “AI techniques can produce a free, non-invasive, real-time, anytime, instantly distributable, large-scale asymptomatic screening tool for Covid-19 for increase current approaches to contain the spread of Covid -19. Practical use cases could be for daily screening of students, workers and the public when schools, jobs and transportation reopen, or for pool testing to quickly alert outbreaks in groups.

The impact of this technology would be enormous. Currently, test results can take a week to process. The delays and shortages of tests are due to factors such as constraints on the supply chain providing swabs and chemicals, as well as pressures on laboratory technicians who process large volumes of tests. And the test only tells you if you were positive then, not if you are positive now, which can lead to a false sense of security.

An instant smartphone-based Covid-19 test would be a game-changer and save countless lives. The developers say they intend to make the technology available in app form, pending regulatory approval, but there is no clear timeline for when it could be released to the public. (The team did not respond to a request for comment.)

A reusable N95 mask

We are all aware of the severe shortage of N95 masks – the gold standard for protecting people from viruses like Covid-19 – which has led to countless doctors and nurses to die due to a lack of medical equipment. Individual protection.

The reason for the shortage? Boost the supply chain by producing the molten masks that depend on expensive equipment to produce.

In July, a group of researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital received a wave of media attention for their invention of a reusable silicone-based N95 mask capable of withstanding repeated high-temperature sterilizations and bleach, which makes it ideal for hospitals. This mask, which requires much less material than the standard N95 mask, could be easily made in the USA. And, unlike standard N95s, they could be reused 100 times. (By the end of 2020, 3M will have manufactured 2 billion N95 respirators to meet the needs, which will only worsen our plastic pollution crisis. A reusable mask would help avoid the mountain of waste that could end up in our oceans or in our air after incineration.)

According to Adam Wentworth, a research engineer working on the mask, they are still in the process of raising funds to create the final prototype. Whenever the fundraiser is over – there is no set deadline – they should submit it for approval to the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. It’s a process that could take around six months, even with the prioritization of emergencies.

At this point, a Covid-19 vaccine should become widely available before the mask. Over time, it does. the pandemic is probably over.

Mannequin wearing a reusable N95 silicone mask. Photography: MIT

Wastewater analysis for early detection

We know that people infected with Covid can carry the virus asymptomatically for two weeks before realizing they are sick. This means that early detection methods are essential to mitigate the spread.

In May, Stat News, a medical news site, reported that testing the sewage was a promising way to detect cases of Covid-19 a week earlier. And soon after, Germany, Finland and the Netherlands announced that they would begin monitoring wastewater to detect cases of Covid-19. Senator Dianne Feinstein in July urged the Department of Health and Human Services to implement the technology nationwide; however, adoption in the United States has been slow.

Several universities, including MIT, are already using sewage testing to stay ahead of campus outbreaks – the method successfully helped stem an outbreak in a University of Arizona dormitory in August – but most communities still do not benefit from simple and effective early detection. proven tool.

We know we are entering the deadliest phase of the pandemic, with cases and deaths surpassing previous highs in the spring. With vaccines now being rolled out in the UK, China, Russia and other countries at record speed, the question is whether any of these technologies will be in use when they are most critical – at know now – or if it will not generalize until we emerge. get out of this global pandemic. It is hoped that the “warp speed” may not be limited to the vaccine but also to other technologies. But it does not look promising.

One app could catch 98.5% of all Covid-19 infections. Why is it not available? | American News

Source link One app could catch 98.5% of all Covid-19 infections. Why is it not available? | American News

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