Novel Portable Sensor to Reveal “Hidden” COVID-19 Infection
In Canada, as of April 21, only 569,878 people (~1.5% of the population) have been tested, with more than 38,413 positive COVID-19 cases identified; yet most people, including the asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, are not eligible for testing. Given that as many as 45% of all COVID-19 cases lack the known symptoms, or so-called asymptomatic cases, up to an estimated 17,000 cases could be asymptomatic and thus endangering public health. Moreover, these symptoms are not observed in the early stages of the disease, even in symptomatic cases.
Early detection and isolation of COVID-19 cases, especially asymptomatic cases, is therefore crucial for controlling this outbreak, and a novel method to identify asymptomatic cases is urgently needed. In response to this urgent situation, we propose a rapid solution to identify asymptomatic and presymptomatic cases through early detection of a “hidden” symptom. We will combine microfluidic, microelectronic, and open-JFET (junction gate field-effect transistor) sensing techniques to develop a safe, low-complexity, rapid, and easy-to-use technology to fight COVID-19. The proposed technology would allow rapid testing at home using a portable sensor to evaluate disease progress or treatment, eliminating the need to break quarantine (which could potentially infect others) as part of follow-up testing.