CT Researchers Develop Wearable Clip That Detects COVID-19 Exposure

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Researchers in Connecticut have developed technology that can determine exposure to COVID-19, simply by adding a small device onto your clothing.

It's a "fresh air clip" that can be worn in high-risk settings to determine if there's SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the air nearby.

Krystal Pollitt with the Yale School of Public Health helped create the device. NBC Connecticut's Dan Corcoran spoke with her about the specifics and how it works.

Krystal: "So the clip itself has a polymer film inside of it and that's where we collect airborne SARS-CoV-2, the virus that's present in a drop form, or as an aerosol. Once a person's worn the device, they send it into the lab, and we can then use PCR testing to see if they have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2."

Dan: "Is there a need for something like this? Could this actually help reduce COVID-19 spread?"

Krystal: "We're hopeful that it can. So, we see this device as being really useful in high-risk settings where there could potentially be someone that is COVID positive, potentially asymptomatic, and expelling it out, while they're coughing or breathing or talking. This would alert people to that if they were in the same space or proximal to that individual."

Dan: "What do we know about how accurate this is?"

Krystal: "We've done extensive testing with the device. We had it placed into the ICU rooms at Yale New Haven Hospital, making sure that we could detect SARS-CoV-2 in the air with it. We did extensive laboratory testing as well with it, simulating indoor environments, looking at how quickly the virus was taken up onto the device, that then allows us to estimate what airborne concentrations are."

Dan: "Is this device something that people can afford and are there plans to distribute to the masses?"

Krystal: "That's exactly what we're exploring right now. Our first priority was that it works and we were competent in the findings. And now we're exploring on how we can scale up its use."

Researchers in Connecticut have developed technology that can determine exposure to COVID-19, simply by adding a small device onto your clothing.

Kathryn LaBianca is a nursing student a bartender at Figaro's Ristorante in Enfield. She tells us she heard about the device and believes it could help cut down on transmission, especially where she works.

“I definitely think that it’s great that they’re making this technology," said LaBianca.

“I think early detection is key not just for COVID but for everything,” she continued. “I definitely would wear one especially being in school."

Nearly two years into the pandemic and the restaurant is still adjusting on the fly.

“It’s completely different, it’s changed everything," said restaurant owner Ernie Nolasco. “Before, we used to be always steady, today, it’s not the same.”

Nolasco said that despite the ups and downs at his business, he's dedicated to ensuring his workers and customers are safe, and he's on board with having some of the clips just in case.

"I think it would be terrific for employees, for the customers, everybody," said Nolasco. "We've got to be careful what we do."

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