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Covid update: 14 January 2021

14 Jan 2021

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

Under a cross-disciplinary program spearheaded by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, scientists from MESA+, Twente, The Netherlands, among others, are developing an AI-based system to predict whether Covid-19 patients will develop severe cardiovascular complications. In the longer term these systems could detect the likely onset of inflammatory disease.

EPFL has launched a pan-European research program called Digipredict. The goal is to develop a digital twin that can detect serious complications in Covid-19 patients, employing breakthrough technology in the fields of artificial intelligence, smart patches and organs-on-chips. The initiative brings together around a dozen partner organizations (universities, hospitals and startups).

Digital twins are digital replicas of an object, process or system – and in this case: a patient. They are used in design and to better understand how the system will behave over its lifecycle. Digital twins stand to revolutionize healthcare in the 21st century, paving the way to more personalized, preventive and participative treatment options that support a shift from reactive to proactive healthcare.

Nanosensors

The Digipredict digital twin will consist of a smart patch with integrated sensor technology for collecting a range of medical data, such as blood oxygen levels, breathing rate and body temperature. The patches will also include nanosensors linked to an artificial intelligence program in order to continually track specific biomarkers that indicate a cytokine storm may be brewing.

These biomarkers, located in a patient’s interstitial fluid, give an indication of the trajectory that the disease will follow. “Our digital twin will use organ-on-chip technology to select the right biomarker combination for generating an accurate picture of how the disease is progressing in a patient and how well the chosen treatments are working,” said Albert van den Berg, professor at the University of Twente, Netherlands, and member of the Digipredict team.

Osram launches portable UV-C air purifiers

Stopping the spread of germs and viruses has become more important in the current pandemic-ridden world. UV-C light has been proven to be a key to clean air indoors. Osram is now commercializing UV-C technology with two flexible atmosphere and surface disinfecting products as mobile applications.

“Osram has decades of experience in sterilization and disinfection using UV-C light,” said Dr. Wilhelm Nehring, CEO of the firm's Digital Business Unit. “This expertise from professional applications such as surface and air disinfection in hospitals or the drinking water purification, we bring with two variants of our product AirZing UV-Compact now for everyone usable in offices, cars and home.”

With AirZing UV-Compact, available in Standard and Pro version, Osram is launching two portable products from a new portfolio that can be used effectively and easily to clean air indoors. The UV-C light sources are low-pressure discharge lamps.

They are installed in devices in such a way that no light is emitted into the environment. The UV-C light is shielded inside the housing, which allows air purifiers to be used safely in the presence of humans and animals. The products work on a simple but effective principle: the ambient air is drawn into the device with the aid of a fan, bypassed by the UV-C light source and then released back into the room cleaned of viruses and germs.

With its traditional UV-C technology, Osram has been offering professional applications for surface and air disinfection and water purification for decades. For example, the Osram AirZing series for surface disinfection was used in over 2,000 hospitals in Wuhan and Beijing, China, at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. This application confirmed its effectiveness against the coronavirus. In addition, around 10,000 products were delivered for use in Chinese kindergartens.

The cell nucleus of microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses contain thymine, a chemical element of the genetic material. This element absorbs UV-C at a specific wavelength of 253.7 nm and changes it in such a way that the cell is no longer able to reproduce and survive.

Taiwan claims Covid-19 success at virtual CES 2021 pavilion

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the lifestyle of human beings. At this critical moment in the crisis, cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, 5G mobile communications, Internet of Things, and blockchain have been applied in various fields of everyday living. So says Taiwan Tech Arena (TTA).

TTA, which is funded by Taiwan's Ministry of Science and Technology, has been exhibiting some of the country's latest innovations at this week's digital CES event. As part of its Taiwan Pavilion marketing message, the TTA commented, “Taiwan's success in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic has attracted Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.”

For CES 2021, the Ministry and its partners assembled 100 startups to present a wide range of home-grown technologies including display and lifestyle solutions (click preceding link for video).

The Ministry has used customized marketing solutions to maximize the visibility of the team's display, by making videos to strengthen the images of the teams. To enhance “global connections”, a diversified online matchmaking exchange and pitch events were enabled to help the teams connect to with vendors and venture capitalists.

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