Coronavirus: BioCloud device claims to detect airborne virus

Coronavirus: BioCloud device claims to detect airborne virus

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  • Coronavirus pandemic

The BioCloud device on an office wall

copyright of the imageKontrol Energy

image captionThe device could be used in offices or other spaces where people gather

A Canadian company has developed a wall-mounted device that it claims can detect the presence of coronaviruses in the air and send an alert.

Kontrol Energy hopes its BioCloud devices can be used in hospitals, transportation systems and schools, but has no orders yet.

One expert, who independently tested the system, said he believed it worked.

But another told the BBC that far more tests would be needed before he was convinced of its effectiveness.

The device analyzes the air quality, the samples of which are sent to a detection chamber that can be configured for specific tests for Covid. According to the company, the devices use “three independent capture techniques” that allow for virus sampling, but does not explain what they are.

The company said it received interest in the device from “around the world”.

“There is a critical need for technology to provide us with assurance that the workplaces, schools, healthcare environments and other spaces we physically occupy are safe and free from infectious diseases,” said Paul Ghezzi, CEO of Kontrol.

copyright of the imageKontrol Energy
image captionThe company hopes the device will be used in schools

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Skeptical

Dr David Heinrichs, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Western University in Ontario, said his lab has tested the device.

“I have no doubt that this technology can quickly and effectively detect a range of airborne pathogens, including the virus that causes Covid-19,” he said.

But Professor Alan McNally of the University of Birmingham was not convinced.

“I think this is just another test marketed without any independent and reliable validation and testing, and I’d say I’m extremely skeptical about its use.”

He said he would need “an incredible amount of independent testing”.

He also said it’s not clear what the procedure would be for schools and businesses if the alarm sounded: “How exactly one would act if Covid in the air was detected is rather beyond me.”

Kontrol said it would be up to the device administrator to decide how to proceed, but it would help contain the “outbreaks”.

The company received a $ 50,000 (£ 38,000) grant from the National Research Council of Canada to develop its BioCloud device.

Each unit will cost an estimated $ 12,000 and the company hopes to be able to produce up to 20,000 per month.

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