NIH to support new ways to address COVID-19 testing and surveillance

Dec. 29, 2020

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded over $107 million to support new, non-traditional approaches and reimagined uses of existing tools to address gaps in COVID-19 testing and surveillance, according to a press release.

The program also will develop platforms that can be deployed in future outbreaks of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. A part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program will support 49 research projects and grant supplements at 43 institutions across the United States. It will focus on non-traditional viral screening approaches, such as biological or physiological markers, new analytical platforms with novel chemistries or engineering, rapid detection strategies, point-of-care devices, and home-based testing technologies.

The grants will support new approaches to identifying and tracking the current SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. Examples of these projects include:

• Development of an electrochemical biosensor in two detection devices, a diagnostic breathalyzer for instant detection of SARS-CoV-2, and an airborne detector for real-time, continuous surveillance of a large space. 

• Development of novel, safe and effective biosensing and detection technologies to spot signatures of COVID-19 from human skin or mouth.

• Development of an innovative platform that integrates biosensing with touchscreen or other digital devices to achieve automatic, early detection and tracing of SARS-CoV-2 in real-time.

• Development of a novel test to independently assess smell and taste function in individuals who are at high risk for contracting COVID-19.

• Development of wastewater technologies and data collection methods for detecting and estimating SARS-CoV-2 community infection levels, which can offer advanced knowledge of community spread and allow for targeted public health protection measures.

• Implementation of devices with integrated artificial intelligent systems for the detection, diagnosis, prediction, prognosis and monitoring of COVID-19 in clinical, community and everyday settings.

• Characterization of the spectrum of SARS CoV-2 associated illness, including the multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).

• Development of biomarkers and biosignatures for an algorithm utilizing artificial intelligence to predict the long-term risk of disease severity after a child is exposed to SARS-CoV-2.

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