Image by Yasuhiro Tsukamoto

Researchers in Japan have developed a face mask that glows under UV light when exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 — so it just might be the hot new accessory at next year’s big EDM festival. 

The team at Kyoto Prefectural University created the mask to give wearers a quick and easy way to see if they contracted the virus, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo News. They hope to eventually gain government approval for the innovation, and could begin selling them as soon as 2022. 

The secret to its coronavirus detection? Ostrich eggs. That’s because ostriches can produce different antibodies in order to fight COVID. 

With that in mind, the team created a special mask filter that’s sprayed with a fluorescent dye containing antibodies extracted from ostrich eggs. If it comes into contact with the virus, the contaminated areas of the filter will glow brightly under a UV light. 

“We can mass produce antibodies from ostriches at a low cost,” Yasuhiro Tsukamoto, president of the university and research lead of the project, told Kyodo News. In the future, I want to make this into an easy testing kit that anyone can use.”

In a dramatic twist, Tsukamoto says that he discovered that he himself had contracted the virus after he placed the mask on his own face and found that it glowed under a UV light. 

To get initial results, the team conducted experiments with 32 people infected with the virus who were given the special masks. They discovered that the masks glowed under UV, but steadily faded over the course of 10 days as their viral load decreased.

Of course, more testing is needed before they can submit the mask for government approval. The researchers now hope to scale their experiment to 150 coronavirus patients. 

Being able to quickly identify whether or not you have coronavirus is crucially important to fighting the worse effects of the pandemic. As the world continues to grapple with the full impacts of the pandemic, innovations like these masks are going to go a long way in putting it to bed for good. 

READ MORE: Japanese scientists develop glowing masks to detect coronavirus [Kyodo News]

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