Research looks at Covid variants | Understanding through face masks

Detecting COVID variants

COLUMBUS, OH—As you know, there’s a new COVID variant in town: Omicron. OSU researchers are conducting surveillance testing for the variant through a sequencing process. They take positive non-contagious samples from OSU hospitals and then test them to determine how much of the virus is present. The researchers then amplify the virus and run it through a machine called the Ion Chef, which loads samples onto a chip and informs the team as to what variant is present.

How well can a person fight infection?

DURHAM, NC—Meanwhile, biomedical engineers at Duke University have devised a rapid test to assess how protected a patient is from new COVID variants, including Omicron. This test could potentially tell doctors how well a person’s neutralizing antibodies can fight infection from multiple variants, as well as determine what monoclonal antibody to used for treatment.

Masks that are hard on the ears

ST. LOUIS, MO—One of the nuisances about mask-wearing due to COVID is that we no longer able to hear each other clearly. A team from Washington University tested different mask designs to see which ones were better when it came to being able to communicate while wearing them. The worst offenders are cotton masks with filter inserts and masks with transparent plastic panels.