Novel diagnostic face masks that detect SARS-CoV-2 could offer enhanced method to detect and respond to Delta variant, says GlobalData

Following today’s news (18 August) that diagnostic face masks developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University are about to be commercialized:

Sultan Ahmed, Infectious Disease Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“GlobalData believes that the new diagnostic masks have the potential to create a large positive impact in response to the overwhelmingly dominant presence of the Delta variant, which now accounts for 99% of recent cases in the UK.

“As of July 19, the UK lifted its final restrictions with regards to COVID-19. Since then, there have been 1,467 people hospitalized, 34.9% of whom are fully vaccinated. GlobalData firmly believes that the public cannot become complacent, despite being vaccinated, as this will exacerbate case numbers and increase hospitalization rates. To prevent this, along with the prospect of a future lockdown, the public must continue to ensure safe practice, via, for instance, the wearing of masks in high-transmission settings.

“Diagnostic masks developed by MIT and Harvard offer a new incentive for people to continue to wear them. With many outdoor places and indoor recreational sites in the UK requiring proof of vaccination or a negative lateral flow test, this will encourage many to use a diagnostic mask as a means of convenience.

“The diagnostic capability of these masks offers accuracy similar to highly-sensitive PCR tests with speed equivalent to antigen tests. There is great potential that this may set the new standard of COVID-19 testing if adopted correctly.”

More Media