By Lyndon A. Bilal

“If anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”  (Qur’an 5:32)

A consortium of medical researchers working with the U.S. Army is looking for help in finding technology solutions to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and treat those with the COVID-19 disease. 

The device would unobtrusively monitor a person’s vital signs and check for telltale symptoms of the coronavirus. While obviously of benefit to practically anyone, the Pentagon is particularly interested in the device to keep its personnel healthy and units fully operational in the midst of a pandemic.

Army Medical Research and Development Command invited defense firms to submit proposals for a $25 million effort expected to make up to 10 awards to qualified teams to design prototypes of a wearable diagnostic capability for “pre-/very early symptomatic detection of COVID-19 infection.” 

Furthermore, the Request for Proposal (RFP) issued through the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC) suggests the device should be comfortable enough to wear continuously, like a Fitbit device.

MTEC, located in Summerville, S.C., is a group that works with the Army and other government agencies to develop advanced medical technology. Their RFP states: “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 prevent the spread of the virus.”

Interested firms have until June 1, 2020, to submit their white paper proposals for the project     describing their plan to create a working prototype and perform testing to demonstrate its ability to detect signs of current infection from “asymptomatic or symptomatic patients.” 

The winners will be given nine months to produce a usable device. According to the RFP, “Physiologic surveillance for COVID-19 positive individuals that do not yet show clear medical symptoms is an ultimate goal,” which adds that results should be easily saved, shared and interpreted by non-laboratory personnel.

Additionally, the RFP states that prototypes should be designed to be worn for continuous physiological monitoring without interfering in daily activities. Also, proposals should provide a plan for Emergency Use Authorization status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Currently, the Army is in the process of equipping installations in its training base, as well as across the operational force, with high-tech testing equipment designed to analyze and complete COVID-19 testing on hundreds of soldiers per day.

Sources: Military Times, MTEC website, and Popular Mechanics

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