Maryland company’s product detects COVID-19 by testing air quality

A Maryland company is responsible for a new product that can detect COVID-19 particles by testing air quality – and some believe it could be a game changer for schools and businesses.

The product is called ViraWarn, and it’s still being manufactured, but the company’s co-founder told FOX 5’s Natalie Rubino that it’s already generating interest.

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The device plugs into a wall and filters through the air, searching for SARS particles.

"It pulls in that air and looks for a spiked virus. Any of the SARS variants are spiked viruses and they generate a certain charge. They have a certain signature that we can pick up through software. We have a particular media that detects that SARS variant protein and sends out an alert," said Opteev chairman and co-founder Conrad Bessemer.

Video from Opteev’s testing lab in India shows how the device works. When the particles are detected, a light flashes red.

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In addition, owners can use an app that sends them an alert.

The product has about an 80% accuracy – and also features software that sorts through false positives and negatives.

"What we recommend is that most people already have a protocol in place that would incorporate the physical testing of the people in the room, then closing off the room, sanitizing it and then going about business again once the room has been cleared," Bessemer said.

There are currently two ViraWarn models – both are under $800 and are being marketed to schools and businesses. The models are expected to be ready to ship in September.

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The company says schools and businesses – including the Baltimore Orioles – have shown a lot of interest. 

The company is also developing a cheaper model for use in the home.

"It needs to become as natural as a smoke detector would for your house. You put it up there and you want to feel protected and you want to know when something is wrong obviously," Bessemer said.