The U.S. military agency DARPA has developed a chip that, once transplanted under the skin, continuously tests the blood circulating in the body for Sars-CoV-2. Once the virus is detected, the chip sounds an alarm and notifies both the affected person and a monitoring center.
Invasive Continuous Diagnostics by Chip
The chip differs significantly from conventional tests that are widely used in the general population because, first, it is an invasive method of diagnosis and, second, it tests for the presence of the virus not only selectively but permanently. Moreover, unlike rapid antigen tests or PCR tests, the test serum is not a swab from the upper respiratory tract, but blood. The chip itself is embedded in a kind of gel pad that is supposed to resemble body tissue.
Once inside the body, the chip permanently monitors the blood and various chemical reactions in the body. The sensor is connected to a control center that monitors the chip’s messages and initiates measures if necessary. If the person concerned tests positive with the chip in the body, a signal is sent to this control center as well as to the person himself, who should then isolate himself and undergo a blood test.
Designed for use in the military
The chip is designed for use by the U.S. military, according to the researchers who developed it. This is considered a particularly hard-hit group by Covid-19: among the roughly 1.3 million servicemen and women, there have been about 250,000 Covid-19 cases to date. The public became aware, for example, of the series of infections on the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, where nearly 1,300 crew members became infected with Sars-CoV-2 within a very short period of time.
The new chip is intended to help detect infections as early as possible and accordingly initiate the earliest possible isolation of those affected. This should help protect the military from further major outbreaks of the infectious disease. Initial trials with the chip have shown, according to the researchers, that those affected usually tested positive one day before the first symptoms appeared as a result of the chip.
Privacy concerns against invasive testing
Matt Hepburn, head of the research team, stated on the CBS program 60 Minutes, during which the research findings to date were presented, that the chip is not a tracker that monitors sufferers. In doing so, he pointed to what are probably the biggest concerns about such testing procedures.