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A Surveillance Company Claims It Has Developed A ‘Coronavirus Detection Camera System’

As coronavirus continues to spread, the lack of available tests is a persistent problem in the U.S. Now, a company known for offering controversial gun, knife, and fight detection cameras says it’s selling a ‘Corona Virus Detection system.’ A Surveillance Company Claims It Has Developed A ‘Coronavirus Detection Camera System’

On its website, Austin-based Athena Security boasts that its Fever Detection COVID19 Screening System operates on its existing threat detection platform, and that with the use of “artificially intelligent thermal cameras” it can detect fevers, and then notify the owner of the system that someone may be infected with coronavirus.

In a video demonstration of the product, an Athena employee shows off the thermal system, saying that the AI caught his 99.5 degree temperature. According to the company’s product description, the system uses AI to find the face of a subject, and measures their temperature through the eyes.

The company is so confident in its claims that on Tuesday it responded, “We can solve this,” to a tweeted picture of an overly-crowded O’Hare Airport.

“Since higher temperature is one of the first symptoms, these cameras can be life-saving — warning the person they could have the virus and encouraging that person to take serious steps to self-quarantine,” a company representative told Motherboard.

According to Motherboard’s report, Athena claims the product will be sent to a variety of locations, “including government agencies, airports, and large Fortune 500 companies” over the next few weeks.

Ignoring that there are any number of reasons someone might be running a fever outside of coronavirus, the system raises a lot of concerns. Once a fever is detected, Athena’s co-founder told Motherboard, an alert is sent to the client. But it’s unclear what happens next. Given the severe shortage of available tests, and that the people who are most often being given first access to them are those who have traveled recently or come into contact with a lab-confirmed coronavirus patient, it would likely be difficult to obtain a test based off of a temperature read by Athena’s system.

But Athena isn’t the only one proposing tech solutions to the coronavirus. Many are eyeing the potential use of phone apps to track the virus’s spread and those who are infected. However, just like with Athena’s claimed thermal technology, there are a number of ethical concerns, as Mic explored yesterday.

“Having a reliable test, at this point, is the only accurate system for tracking COVID-19,” David Polgar, a technology ethicist and founder of All Tech is Human, previously told Mic when asked about potential smartphone tracking. “The better use of our digital tools would be to help assist those with potential symptoms of COVID-19 to get a reliable test, which then allows the US to have a better picture of the current outbreak.”

5-Minute Novel Coronavirus Test From Abbott Labs Receives Emergency Use Authorization From FDA


“We expect to deliver 50,000 COVID-19 tests per day to healthcare professionals on the front lines.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency use authorization for a new novel coronavirus test from Abbott Laboratories. Results from the speedy test come back in as little as five minutes and don’t require shuttling samples to a lab.

The Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test, a portable device the size of a toaster, uses molecular testing technology to detect fragments of the coronavirus genome. (Fun fact: It takes a bit longer to rule out a COVID-19 diagnosis—patients can expect to wait up to 13 minutes for a negative result.)

The new test will potentially cut days off of testing wait times, while also helping to alleviate issues caused by the lack of COVID-19 tests throughout the country. Tests are heading straight to healthcare workers this week. “Through the incredible work of teams across Abbott, we expect to deliver 50,000 COVID-19 tests per day to healthcare professionals on the front lines, where testing capabilities are needed most,” Chris Scoggins, senior vice president of Rapid Diagnostics for Abbott shared in a statement. “Portable molecular testing expands the country’s capacity to get people answers faster.”

The test uses a swab sample from the nose or the back of the throat, like novel coronavirus tests currently in use. Then, that is mixed with a chemical solution that opens up the virus and releases its RNA immediately. The ID Now system reads the sequences of the novel coronavirus genome, revealing the diagnosis in minutes. Even if there is only a small amount of COVID-19 found in the sample, the machine can amplify it enough to be detectable.

The ID Now system can run about four tests every hour, Kimberly LaFleur, senior manager of rapid diagnostics public affairs for Abbott Laboratories told Women’s Health. There are currently 18,000 ID Now systems across the country, but she doesn’t expect all of the units will run the COVID-19 tests.

The portability of the test is just as impressive. It can be used by healthcare professionals outside of traditional hospitals with no need for a central lab facility. “The COVID-19 pandemic will be fought on multiple fronts, and a portable molecular test that offers results in minutes adds to the broad range of diagnostic solutions needed to combat this virus,” Robert B. Ford, president and chief operating officer of Abbott shared in a statement. “With rapid testing on ID NOW, healthcare providers can perform molecular point-of-care testing outside the traditional four walls of a hospital in outbreak hotspots.”

At the moment, the test has received FDA emergency use authorization, but it is not FDA approved. That means it can only be used by authorized laboratories and patient care settings, according to Abbott.

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