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MCO started on Mar 18, 2020


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Our coverage on COVID‑19

Face masks will soon be able to help detect COVID-19 by changing colour

A team at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) is developing a colour-changing sticker strip, which could be used on face masks. The stickers could help change colours if they detect COVID-19 in the user’s breath or saliva.

How will the stickers work?

The sticker strips are pretty small, as seen in the tweet by UCSD. The stickers—which aims to detect protein-cleaving molecules produced from a COVID-19 infection—can be placed on N95 masks, as well as surgical or cloth masks.

The strip will then release it’s liquid from the blister pack to the rest of the strip once the user removes the mask. This means that users won’t need to worry about getting the test liquid on your face. Once the liquid spilled, the test strip turns a specific colour.

Will it replace standard testing methods?

Jesse Jokerst, professor of nanoengineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and lead principal investigator of the project stated that the strips will not replace standard testing protocols. The aim is to help provide “simple, affordable and reliable surveillance for COVID-19 infections that can be done daily and easily implemented in resource-poor settings”.

“We’re taking what many people are already wearing and repurposing them, so we can quickly and easily identify new infections and protect vulnerable communities,” Jokerst continued.

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The tests are expected to cost only a few cents per strip to produce. It is especially useful for high-risk areas like prisons, homeless shelters and clinics.

Currently, COVID-19 tests aren’t exactly cheap. However, there were previously more affordable COVID-19 tests offered by a Selangor assemblyman, but testing would be done by appointment only.


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