British scientists have developed a ceiling-mounted “Covid alarm” that can detect whether someone in a room is infected with the coronavirus in as little as 15 minutes.
The sensor, made by the Cambridgeshire firm Roboscientific, works by detecting chemicals produced by the skin or present in the breath of people infected with the coronavirus. These “volatile organic compounds”, which create odour, are too subtle to be detected by the human nose, but a study by the research team showed they could be sniffed out by dogs. A machine, however, is more practical and gives even better accuracy than canines.
The detectors can sense people who have contracted the virus even if they have yet to show symptoms, making them more effective even than PCR tests, which struggle to pick up Covid-19 in asymptomatic carriers.