Researchers at Kyoto Prefectural University in Japan have managed to create a face mask that glows in the dark if Covid-19 particles are detected in a person’s breath or spit.
Researchers coated masks with a mixture of ostrich antibodies that react when they interact with the Covid-19 virus in humans.
Filters are then removed from the face mask in question and sprayed with a chemical that makes Covid-19, if present, viewable across a smartphone or dark light, ZME Science magazine reports.
The method could help those infected with the virus but who show no symptoms and are unlikely to get tested, stressed Yasuhiro Tsukamoto, veterinary professor and president of Kyoto Prefectural University.
Strongest animal on the planet
Because ostriches have an extremely efficient immune system, thought to be the strongest of any animal on the planet, they can rapidly produce antibodies to fight an enormous range of bacteria and viruses.
A 2012 study in the Brazilian Journal of Microbiology showed they could stop Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli in their tracks so experts also predict that this bird will be instrumental in fending off epidemics in the future.
During the production of the masks, Tsukamoto and his team injected inactive Covid into female ostriches, in effect vaccinating them. They then extracted antibodies from the eggs the ostriches produced, as the yolk transfers immunity to the offspring, ZME Science explained, “this is the same way a vaccinated mother conveys disease resistance to her infant through the placenta.”
“An ostrich egg yolk is perfect for this job as it is nearly 24 times bigger than a chicken’s, allowing a more significant number of antibodies to form,” the magazine wrote.
“Additionally, immune cells are also produced far more quickly in these birds—taking a mere six weeks, as opposed to chickens, where it takes twelve.”
Cheaper and faster than PCR
The Japanese researchers said the method may offer a low cost alternative to home testing.
“It’s a much faster and direct form of initial testing than getting a PCR test,” explained Tsukamoto.
One Japanese radio station remarked, however, that the scientific breakthrough may lead to an unprecedented run on ostriches around the world
The news from Japan comes only days after various media across Scandinavia and the UK reported the emergence of a new Covid variant that is so infectious and spreading so fast that nearly half of all cases in Denmark are now the new mutation, named BA.2, with more than 400 confirmed infections across the UK.
The new mutation has reportedly also popped up in Norway, Sweden, Singapore and India.
Reuters reports that UK health authorities are investigating 426 confirmed cases of BA.2 in Britain, while officials in Denmark said that just over 45 per cent of all new infections in the country are now the new variant.
WHO representatives have rushed to Copenhagen to investigate BA.2, nicknamed ‘stealth Omicron’ in Danish media as the mutation seems to be pushing the Omicron variant aside fairly quickly.
Covid experts and researchers point out that there is still much we do not know about BA.2 as it has only been arounds for a very short time. So what do we know so far?
BA.2 outpacing Omicron variant
The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies Omicron as B.1, On December 23, the WHO reported that over 99 per cent of the cases it sequenced were BA.1.
However, the rise of BA.2 in Denmark and elsewhere suggests that BA.2 may outcompete BA.1.
The country’s new Covid infections have shot to record highs in recent weeks. Denmark recorded over 30,000 new cases per day this week, 10 times more cases than during peaks in previous waves.