How a dot on your forearm could be the future sign of COVID immunity

When you are out in public, it is virtually impossible to tell who has immunity to the coronavirus and who is susceptible.

A San Diego-based company is trying to change that by developing two new COVID-19 monitoring systems that are as easy as checking someone’s forearm.

Diomics is developing a device that looks like a nicotine patch that the company says can reveal the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in 24 to 36 hours. The patch is intended to be worn for one to two weeks, offering people a way to monitor — and potentially display — their infection status, according to CEO Anthony Zolezzi.

When the patch, named Diocheck, detects antibodies circulating in the blood, it turns red.

“We think this is an integral piece of getting things back to normal,” Zolezzi said. “This can get the country back operating and get us comfortable that the people around us aren’t infected.”

A second device, made from thousands of tiny polymer beads, can be injected into the skin and offer COVID monitoring for six months to a year, Zolezzi said. The company is still testing how long the test can stay active before it’s safely absorbed by the body.

The company plans to launch clinical trials at UC Irvine next month.

Zolezzi envisions the tests would be useful for employees in numerous sectors, including the airline industry, the cruise industry, the gambling industry and the military, offering a new way to detect and rapidly quarantine infected individuals.

Once a coronavirus vaccine is released, the tests could be a useful companion, he said, since it will likely take several weeks to develop protective antibodies after inoculation. An individual wearing the patch, for example, could find out when they have antibodies circulating in the blood.

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