COVID-19 Testing Mask

Science Fields

As the entire world continues to struggle with the social and economic turmoil of “pandemic days”, developing an accurate and rapid testing method for the coronavirus is still critical, and Japanese scientists may have just succeeded in doing so. And frankly, in quite a simple way: face masks that glow upon contact with the coronavirus. Although it is not yet clear whether they will replace the conventional COVID-19 tests, which usually take a long time to yield results and may sometimes give false results, scientists have taken steps to put them into use in 2022.

What led to this promising development is, get ready for it, ostrich eggs. Veterinarian Prof. Dr. Yasuhiro Tsukamoto from Kyoto City University has been studying the immune system of ostriches for years. Ostrich antibodies have the potential for developing treatments against bird flu, allergies, and other diseases, and the researchers found out that they are also responsive against coronaviruses. Thus, Tsukamoto and his colleagues managed to produce a special paint including these antibodies from ostrich eggs, which they used to coat the filters of face masks. After that, they applied a chemical substance that glows under ultraviolet light onto the masks and asked volunteer subjects to wear these masks for eight hours. Just as expected, they saw that the areas of masks covering the mouth and nose of subjects diagnosed with COVID-19 glowed under UV light. This was also how Tsukamoto found out that he had contracted the virus too when the face mask he tried on glowed.

The research was conducted with a small group of 32 people, but the researchers are now planning a larger experiment with a group of 150 subjects. They also hope to improve the mask in a way that does not require a special ultraviolet light for detecting the virus on it.

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


  • 1. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/10/scientists-ostrich-cells-glowing-covid-detection-masks
  • 2. https://futurism.com/neoscope/mask-glow-exposed-coronavirus