The world is still battling COVID-19, and the sudden rise in new (omicron) variant puts stress on millions of people. From vaccines to instruments, scientists have developed many innovations to tackle COVID-19. Recently, Japanese researchers developed a mask filter coated with ostrich antibodies to detect COVID-19. The ostrich mask glows when exposed to ultraviolet light if it has traces of COVID-19. 

This special mask was discovered by Yasuhiro Tsukamoto and his team at Kyoto Prefectural University in western Japan. Tsukamoto is a veterinary professor, and he has studied ostriches for years. In a previous study, the researchers found that ostriches have strong resistance to COVID-19 and contain antibodies that bind with coronavirus. Ostriches’ immunity power can fight against bird flu, allergies, and other diseases. 

How Does the Special Mask for COVID-19 Work?

The researchers asked the subjects to wear the ostrich Covid mask for eight hours. It can be worn like a normal mask. After eight hours, the subjects handed the masks to the researchers. The researchers removed the filters and sprayed them with chemicals. The filter glows under ultraviolet light if the virus is present on the surface. The filter worn by COVID-19 affected people glowed around the mouth and nose areas.  

Tsukamoto and his team tested this research on 32 COVID-19 patients and discovered that the masks they wore glowed under UV light. The virus is seen by interacting with the light and reacting with the fluorescent dye-labeled ostrich antibody. 

This special mask for COVID-19 was first tested by Tsukamoto himself. He found that he had been infected with the virus after discovering the similar glowing elements in the ostrich mask. To confirm, he also took a standard COVID-19 test which came as positive

Further, the team plans to develop advanced technology masks without special lighting, so that they will glow automatically if COVID-19 is detected. Tsukamoto’s team also plans to extend the experiment to cover 150 participants. 

Researchers also said that they succeeded in visualizing the presence of the virus with the use of the LED ultraviolet blacklight of the smartphone as the source of light. This ostrich mask is said to be one of the low-cost ways of testing COVID-19 at home. The patent for this mask has been filed, and it is said to be commercially available in Japan and overseas soon.  

Regardless of vaccination, a facemask is mandatory! Make sure to wash your reusable masks at least once a day and throw disposable masks after wearing them once.