Picture: CBS
Picture: CBS

Scientists develop microchip that detects Covid-19 before symptoms emerge

By Keagan Le Grange Time of article published Apr 14, 2021

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SCIENTISTS at the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) have developed a hi-tech microchip that is placed beneath the skin in order to detect Covid-19 before symptoms form.

An infectious disease physician and retired army colonel, Dr Matt Hepburn, shared the groundbreaking technology, with CBS' 60 Seconds, on Sunday night.

The microchip, which is being used by only the Darpa defence department is about to detect Covid-19 in an individual before the virus can be transmitted.

"That was the beauty of the Darpa model. We challenge the research community to come up with solutions that may sound like science fiction. And we're very willing to take chances with high-risk investments that may not work. But if they do, we can completely transform the landscape," said Hepburn.

"It's a sensor," said Hepburn, "That tiny green thing in there, you put it underneath your skin and what that tells you is that there are chemical reactions going on inside the body and that signal means you are going to have symptoms tomorrow."

Hepburn told CBS that the chip works as a “check engine” light which, for example, could assist sailors indicating a Covid-19 detection before needing to test themselves on site.

"We can have that information in three to five minutes," Hepburn said. "As you truncate that time, as you diagnose and treat, what you do is you stop the infection in its tracks."

This was not the only piece of technology Hepburn shared, but also a dialysis machine, which is usually used to remove toxins, excess water and unwanted waste product in the blood of people with kidney issues.

However, in this case, Hepburn said the technology enabled the dialysis machine to filter out Covid-19 in the blood as it passed through the machine then pumped back into the body in a continuous cycle.

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