Baltimore company launches device that detects COVID-19, flu

As COVID-19 and the contagious delta variant continue to spread, Opteev — a virus screening technology company — announced the launch of the first-ever plug-in screening device to detect airborne COVID-19 particles in indoor spaces. 

In a press release published last week, the company said the product, called ViraWarn, is an infection prevention technology that uses breakthrough biosensing technology to actively screen air within indoor spaces and immediately alert occupants when COVID-19 or other viruses, such as the flu, are sensed.

"We’ve been working on it for a while, and the need is so huge, especially with people now returning to school, people returning to the office," Conrad Bessemer, chairman and co-founder of Opteev, told FOX Television Stations. "With more people dying from COVID-19 in the first six months of 2021 than all of 2020, it’s clear that the pandemic is far from behind us." 

Bessemer says he hopes this new product will increase "the level of security and that feeling of safety" as places start to reopen.

How to use the COVID-19 detector ViraWarn

Like a smoke detector monitoring the air and alerting when smoke is detected, ViraWarn monitors the air and immediately alerts when coronavirus particles are detected. 

The patented sensor technology focuses on the unique electrochemistry of spiked protein viruses, including COVID-19 and influenza, to trigger an alert, according to the company. 


Product shot of ViraWarn (Opteev)

ViraWarn modules are plugged into the electrical sockets located around the periphery of the room to provide blanket screening protection across the entire space. ViraWarn quickly detects airborne coronaviruses within minutes of them being introduced by infected individuals, the company said.

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"Typically, in most rooms, it will pick that up within 3 to 4 minutes," Bessemer continued. 

If a viral alert is triggered, a visual indication via an LED light and an audible alert immediately signal so that the room can be evacuated and disinfected in addition to having the occupants screened. A mobile app is also available for mobile notification alerts.

"I think the biggest thing they [occupents] liked about it is that they knew right away. There was no waiting in line for a test," Bessemer said. 

Does the COVID-19 detector ViraWarn really work?

The company says ViraWarn has been successfully tested throughout the recent COVID-19 pandemic in lab settings and says its efficacy has been proven in real world, in-person use cases. 


The product, called ViraWarn, uses breakthrough biosensing technology to actively screen air within indoor spaces and immediately alert occupants when COVID-19 or other viruses, such as the flu, are sensed, according to the company. (Opteev)

Bessemer said the first ViraWarn product "was tested in India over seven months ago" and was given out to hundreds of homes — some which knowingly had COVID-19 and others that didn’t — to accelerate the testing. 

"We are now testing it at the Tropical School of Medicine in India, and we have two labs engaged in testing to be concluded later this month in the U.S.," Bessemer said. 

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Those results will be eventually published, but Bessemer said preliminary results indicate the product is between 70% to 80% effective in detecting the virus.

"This screening is a game changer. Before this technology was developed, we had to wait days to get test results back and by that time, it’s too late," said Biplab Pal, Ph.D., co-founder and chief technology officer at Opteev. "With ViraWarn, we’re making it safer to be together indoors and helping prevent large scale virus transmission in the future."

How much does the COVID-19 detector ViraWarn cost?

ViraWarn has two different models: X and XL — both currently intended for businesses. 

X will be available starting at $459 and is a lightweight device that plugs directly into an electrical outlet, mounting to the wall. 

XL is a standalone device with a larger media chamber "meaning users can go longer in between changing cartridges." The company said this device is important for schools, offices and medical facilities and will be available starting at $799.

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Shipments will start in September 2021 and pre-order reservations are now being accepted through the company’s website.

"People are very concerned about return to offices — there’s a lot of resistance there — and school teachers rightfully so are concerned," Bessemer said. "This is designed to give people that additional safety and we hope that people can take advantage of it."

Bessemer said they intend to have a product available early next year for at-home usage.