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Fact Examine: Military sensor can help detect COVID-19, but it’s not a microchip

Fact Examine: Military sensor can help detect COVID-19, but it’s not a microchip

Published 3: 51 p.m. ET April 22, 2021 | Updated 4: 09 p.m. ET April 22, 2021


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The claim: A new Pentagon microchip can advise within the occasion you have COVID-19

A Facebook publish with nearly 4,000 shares and reactions claims the Pentagon has developed a microchip implant, geared up with an antenna, capable of detecting a COVID-19 an infection.

“What started off as a conspiracy theory has turned out to be surprisingly real,” reads the April 12 publish from Russia Today, a page Facebook flags as state-managed media. “Pentagon scientists have unveiled a microchip implant which can detect a Covid-19 an infection. The chip, which is provided with a small antenna, is meant to act admire a ‘take a look at engine’ gentle, catching asymptomatic cases of the disease.” 

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The claim comes after a “60 Minutes” section posted on-line on April 11, which featured retired Col. Matthew Hepburn, a conventional military infectious disease physician who’s now a challenge leader at the Joint Program Executive Administrative heart for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Protection.

Correct by means of the interview, Hepburn described a sensor that can detect if a person is getting in melancholy health, which has been within the making since 2016 and may be repurposed from its original use to help detect early cases of COVID-19 and other diseases.

Sensor is inert, not a microchip

The Facebook publish will get several details unpleasant.

The fairway sensor, which is smaller than a grain of rice, is not a microchip. It does not have any metal or electronics, according to Profusa, the company that acquired $7.5 million in federal money in 2016 to gain the sensor. Their original goal was to display screen a combat soldier’s health in real-time in active combat zones.

The sensor, first publicized in 2018, is made of hydrogel similar to the tissue came across around the arm, the place the sensor is placed below the pores and skin by injection, according to Profusa. It’s below making an attempt out for potential military applications but is not yet in use, Hepburn said.

“Profusa’s abilities is not a hydrogel chip that will connect you to the Information superhighway,” Jared Adams, chief of communications for the Protection Advanced Research Tasks Agency instantaneous USA TODAY in an email. “The Profusa hydrogel is inert, does not have any electrical parts, and is of similar material to a contact lens or corneal implant.”

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The sensors contain gentle-emitting fluorescent molecules that identify and maintain track of oxygen, glucose, lactate and other biomolecules within the physique. If these increase or decrease, it may indicate the person is getting in melancholy health and may advise symptoms soon.

Those changes are recorded by means of another tool, a reader, passe on the pores and skin’s surface or held by hand instantly on high of the injected sensor. The reader sends signals by means of the pores and skin to the sensor, which emits gentle signals with real time information about the biomolecules latest.

The information peaceful by the reader is displayed on an encrypted cell phone application via Bluetooth, said Adams. Profusa said that data can be shared with health care suppliers as properly.

Sensor not made for COVID-19 specifically 

The sensor can be conventional as a “take a look at engine gentle,” Hepburn instantaneous “60 Minutes.” As soon as the person knows they may advise symptoms soon, they can take a take a look at or accomplish a blood draw and hit upon what diseases their our bodies are reacting to.

Whereas the sensor does not instantly treat COVID-19 or any other disease, it can present early detection that allows faster intervention and treatment.

“As you truncate that time, as you diagnose and treat, what you accomplish is you quit the an infection in its tracks,” said Hepburn. 

Our rating: Partly false

The claim that a sensor developed by Pentagon scientists is a microchip with an antenna that can detect COVID-19 is PARTLY FALSE, based on our research. The sensor is not a microchip, as it’s inert and does not have any metal that may relay personal information to other devices. And it was developed by a private company, though the usage of federal funding. The chip also does not instantly detect COVID-19, but it can relay information about changes in molecules that may indicate the presence of COVID-19 or other diseases. 

Our fact-checking sources:

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Our fact take a look at work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.


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Fact Examine: Military sensor can help detect COVID-19, but it’s not a microchip