Health

Smart toilets could play a role in COVID-19 tracking efforts



Smart toilets could play a role in future COVID-19 tracking efforts, according to a new paper published year nature. the authors describes a smart toilet platform, called Coronavirus: Integrated Diagnostic Toilet, that has a bidet-like attachment fitted to test fecal material for possible COVID-19 RNA isolation in feces.

The user can use a QR code to consent to the collection of a stool sample. The platform then digitally alerts the patient about their condition. The results could be connected to “existing Bluetooth contact tracing systems deployed by Apple and Google for COVID-19 exposure notifications,” the researchers explain. The results could also provide public health authorities with “personalized, vertical data.”

“A smart toilet can access this underutilized data without significant user intervention and even avoid the associated behavioral fatigue,” the authors write. regarding routine COVID-19 testing”.

Researchers and government agencies have previously used wastewater to help track the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“Measuring the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater can allow prediction of potentially adjacent viral hotspots, and sequencing it can identify emerging or established variants. virus map of the most contagious variants.”

The study authors point out that wastewater monitoring has limitations due to the variability of wastewater systems. Monitoring is also concentrated at the population level. However, a smart toilet has the potential to go a step further and inform individuals of their COVID-19 status.

To be successful, the authors say smart toilets need to provide a participant’s “ideal” test results within 15 minutes, be fully automated, provide a hygienic environment for the user, result securely connect data to a centralized network and de-identify user data as it is uploaded to the tracing network.

“However, the success of such a strategy will depend on user acceptance. Some settings such as military barracks or naval ships, which have experienced rapid and widespread epidemics, It is virtually guaranteed that their residents use a COV-ID toilet if it is installed, but consent may be required for personalized testing.

“In general, people may avoid toilets or disagree with testing if they feel there is a risk to personal privacy or dislike testing.”

WHY IT IMPORTANT

Since the beginning of the pandemic, CDC reported nearly 80 million cases of COVID-19 and just under a million deaths from COVID-19.

However, nationwide COVID-19 cases have been declining since peaking in January 2022. The agency reports that 81.8% of individuals over the age of 5 have at least one dose of the vaccine. COVID-19.

TREND TO BIGGER WOMAN

Wastewater has been the key to spotting COVID-19 trends over the past year or so. In February 2022, CDC added wastewater monitoring to its digital COVID-19 Data Tracker. This tool displays virus levels in wastewater for the past 15 days. Users can also access information on the percentage of positive tests from a certain region over the past 15 days.



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