US Army To Develop Wearable COVID-19 Detectors

With more than 5,000 service members infected with COVID-19, the Army has issued a contract notice on The System for Award Management (SAM) website, seeking "to develop a wearable diagnostic capability for the pre‐/very early‐symptomatic detection of COVID‐19 infection."

The notice titled "MTEC-20-12-COVID-19_Diagnostics" is a request for project proposals through the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC), which was posted Monday on SAM. It says ten contracts totaling $25 million could be awarded in weeks to companies that can help the Army rapidly field wearable coronavirus detectors, a move that would be an early warning sign to spreading. 

"There is a dire and urgent need for the development of rapid, accurate wearable diagnostics to identify and isolate pre-symptomatic COVID-19 cases and track/prevent the spread of the virus," the notice read. 

It said the bidder "must have an established manufacturing capability for the platform and assay kits on a large-scale." Testing is expected to be "minimally invasive," and the device should not affect a soldier's general movement while in the field.

"Physiologic surveillance for COVID-19 positive individuals that do not yet show clear medical symptoms is an ultimate goal. Physiological signatures, therefore, must produce predictive algorithms that can be tied into validated and relevant antibody/molecular measurements," the notice went on to say.

The Army is after a solution that addresses the need for early detection and can determine if someone is a carrier of the virus without showing symptoms. The new device should include several indicators, "but are not limited to, physiological markers of early COVID symptomology—elevated temperature/fever, respiratory difficulty/cough, etc.—antibodies against COVID-19, and molecular biomarkers indicative of COVID-19 exposure."

The device must already be proven technology that is "currently been in development or commercially available," the notice read.

The Army is in urgent need of these wearable virus detectors before the second coronavirus wave strikes, with some estimates pointing to a surge in cases and deaths later this year.

President Trump, in late March, signed an executive order that gives him the ability to activate up to one million troops. Considering the Army is now searching for virus detectors that can be easily fielded, does that mean future lockdowns could involve the military testing civilians?