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Scientists invent ‘artificial finger’ that will show how long Covid can last

Scientists at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down have come up with a revolutionary new piece of technology to measure how long the Covid-19 virus can survive different types of material.

The artificial finger, which has similar ridges and curves to a real human finger and even simulates human skin’s natural oils and secretions, can be used to make accurate measurements of how long coronavirus remains active on surfaces such as doorhandles, desks and banisters.

The data from the artificial finger will enable hospital administrators and other facility managers determine what measures they need to take to control the spread of the virus and keep the public safe.

Porton Down’s Professor Tim Atkins told The Times that the research they were doing at his facility would be used around the world: “If I have Covid and I touch this wall and then you touch the wall and you touch your face, you may contract the disease as well.

“And so we’re starting to contribute data I genuinely hope will help scientists and help the international community understand the detail of that so that people can start to make evidence-based decisions and refine what we’re doing going forwards.

“So we have had an artificial finger made and we will start those studies in the coming weeks, again in partnership with a number of other organisations.”

His colleague, virologist Amanda Phelps added that it would “mimic a human finger”.

Professor Atkins said his team were also working on using the data collected by the latest generation of smart watches to help diagnose coronavirus and other conditions.

He said that the watch “will measure your heart rate, the amount of oxygen in your blood, those sorts of things”.

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