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Covid-19 update: 17 September 2020

17 Sep 2020

A round-up of this week's coronavirus-related news and countermeasures from the photonics industry.

ams, a supplier of high-performance sensor solutions, has launched what it calls “the industry’s thinnest dedicated sensor for blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) measurement”. This will bring the capability to remotely monitor this vital sign to small consumer products such as earbuds, smart watches and wristbands, as well as to medical devices such as patches and oximeters, the company explained.

The specification and performance of the AS7038RB SpO2 sensor also means that it is suitable for innovative applications in remote diagnostic equipment, such as disposable patches used for SpO2 and electro-cardiogram measurement in hospital emergency rooms.

ams adds that this gives medical teams and patients greater flexibility to choose how, where and when measurements of these vital signs are taken using non-invasive methods for fast response: “In fact, a growing body of evidence suggests that low SpO2 is an early symptom of the Covid-19 disease before the onset of breathing difficulty in some at-risk patients,” says the launch statement.

Wim Renirie, Vice President and General Manager for the Accessory and Wearable Solutions Business Line at ams, said: “The introduction of this new sensor marks another ams breakthrough in technology for remote diagnostics. ams is working actively with a range of partners to develop innovative solutions for the testing and diagnosis of Covid-19. The sensor offers an additional diagnostic tool, enabling the creation of wearable and disposable equipment for monitoring blood oxygen saturation accurately and safely, without requiring the presence of a medical practitioner.”

Violux, based in Irvine, Ca, USA, creator of smart ultraviolet light cleaning technology, has launched the Luma and Luma Pro clean tech countertop appliances. The new products utilize UV light technology to kill 99.9% of germs, bacteria and viruses – including coronavirus – on commonly used, high-touch items.

The products are designed for consumer households, schools, restaurants, high traffic offices and public spaces, delivering simple and dependable cleaning to quickly and effectively disinfect objects. Luma Pro delivers 32 watts of UV-C power, a large viewing window and an optical quartz floor, cleaning objects in 60 seconds, while Luma offers 16 watts and three-minute cleaning cycle times.

Sean Clottu, CEO and co-founder of Violux, commented “Given the current Covid-19 pandemic, we’re seeing a significant market demand for technology solutions that can safely and effectively disinfect personal items used on a daily basis. UV light has been proven to kill the genetic material inside multiple types of pathogens, including coronavirus.”

According to test results by independent reporting group ResInnova Labs, the Luma portfolio of products had a >99.99% kill rate for both human beta coronavirus (OC43) and methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), in 60 seconds for the Luma Pro and less than 180 seconds for the Luma.

$1.2M raised in seed funding

Violux this week also announced that it has raised $1.2 million in a seed funding round. The funding was led by Okapi Venture Partners, and joined by Unlock Ventures and Envoy Ventures. The company was also recently accepted into UC Irvine’s Wayfinder venture program.

“Violux is pioneering a new consumer category within smart home devices of clean tech, with its launch of countertop appliances that use UV light technology to kill germs including coronavirus,” said Jeff Bocan, partner at Okapi Venture Capital. “The company addresses a critical need in the marketplace by delivering peace of mind that the items people use every day.”

Production for Luma Pro is targeted to begin in November 2020, and Luma is targeted to begin in March 2021. The company will be taking preorders, with discounted prices, and first units are forecasted to be shipped as early as December 2020.

Omega Optical assists in Covid-19 detection

The most common Covid-19 testing protocols utilize fluorescence quenching assays and polymerase chain reaction. For example, in the TAQman assays from Roche Diagnostics, there is fluorescence quenching (dark green circle, in the graphic, right) within the DNA-binding probe specific to a particular DNA sequence (dark blue).

This probe can be specific to viral, bacterial or any other specific DNA sequence in a sample. As TAQ-polymerase (purple oval) replicates the single-stranded DNA (light blue), it encounters the labeled probe and cleaves the nucleotides off, releasing the fluorescent moiety (bright green circle).

When excited with blue light, this compound glows green. The fluorescence is proportional to the number of DNA sequences the probe finds in the sample. If the signal is too low after a single polymerization step, the sample can be heated to separate the strands of DNA and the process is repeated.

These machines are often also called thermocyclers because the heating system cycles on with each round of replication. As with all fluorescence methods, filters are required to specifically excite the fluorophores and separate the fluorescence signals from scattered light. Source: Omega Optical.

Ecolog Deutschland and Eurofins Labo Van Poucke have this week (September 14th) opened a Covid19 Test Center at Brussels Airport, Belgium. The testing station provides travelers with the ease of access to a Covid19 PCR test directly at the airport and to receive the results digitally within a short time frame.

As of this week, passengers arriving from Covid-19 “hot spots”, who have completed a Passenger Location Form and received a SMS code, can undergo a PCR test free of charge at the test facility, as the payment is directly settled by RIZIV/INAMI.

By the end of September, testing services will be extended to all passengers and citizens and with the utilization of a mobile laboratory on site, one will have the opportunity to register for a standard PCR test and receive results within the same day.

Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport commented, "We decided to put up a test center at the airport to further strengthen our sanitary measures against the spread of Covid-19 and thus contribute to protecting public health. The test results will be rapidly communicated to the passengers. Testing is an essential element to allow the aviation industry, and the economy in general, to gradually get out of the current crisis without compromising the health and safety of the public."

SPECTROGON ABHÜBNER PhotonicsTRIOPTICS GmbHLASEROPTIK GmbHIridian Spectral TechnologiesAlluxaHyperion Optics
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