(WSVN) - Even as COVID vaccines are becoming more available, the rate of infections is still rising, and that’s why a South Florida father-and-son team is using technology to try to stop outbreaks before they begin. 7’s Kevin Ozebek has this special assignment report, “Infection Detection.”
We are used to COVID tests looking like this, but two South Florida inventors say there is an easier way.
Dr. S. Howard Wittels, Tiger Tech Chief Medical Officer: “Who wants something stuck in their nose rather than placing a non-invasive quick test, two to four minutes, on their arm?”
Dr. S. Howard Wittels and his son, Tiger Tech CEO Harrison Wittels, developed a mini-EKG armband. It has been used by the military for years to monitor the heart function of soldiers and track their health.
But at the beginning of the pandemic, Dr. Wittels decided to test the bands on his COVID patients.
Dr. S. Howard Wittels: “We started to see a change in the heart rate variability and the EKG on patients, so we started to see that the COVID patients had very specific biomarkers to them.”
COVID-19 causes inflammation to the heart and blood vessels, so the Wittels and their team realized they could update their device with light sensors that can detect that inflammation.
They call it the COVID Plus Monitor.
Harrison Wittels, Tiger Tech CEO: “It’s meant to be a rapid, non-invasive and reusable pre-screener.”
The monitor is strapped to the arm, and the user sits still for about three minutes. If the monitor flashes green, there is no inflammation, and no further COVID testing is needed.
If a red light comes on, the person is most likely infected.
Harrison Wittels: “What it’s telling you is, there is a high probability that this person is undergoing a state that is, statistically, similar to an individual with COVID.”
The Wittels say it can provide a positive COVID result much quicker than the nasal swab test.
Dr. S. Howard Wittels: “The PCR is really only accurate on day five or six of the infection. The COVID Plus picks the infection up on day zero.”
Doctors began testing the COVID Plus Monitor at the Miami Rescue Mission last summer.
Dr. Pete Gutierrez, Miami Rescue Mission Clinic: “I was more than happy to have that done, because at the time, we didn’t even have tests to test people for COVID.”
Using the monitor to pre-screen and identify possible COVID patients has allowed the mission to save money on expensive nasal swab tests.
Dr. Pete Gutierrez: “That was very helpful, because that gave me the opportunity to take everybody every day and test them before we went to work.”
The COVID Plus Monitor was also tested at a school in Las Vegas and showed a 100% accuracy rate.
Jeremy Gregersen, Meadows Head of School: “This is a game changer for schools across the world. If we can get these devices in the hands of schools, more and more children will get to go to school in person, which is something we really believe in.”
The Wittels recently received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for the COVID Plus Monitor, which allows them to distribute the devices.
Harrison Wittels: “I’m excited to see that the technology is working out there, but at the same time, there’s a lot of work to do.”
This father-son tech team is hoping their invention becomes a useful tool in the fight against COVID.
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