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Researchers at the universities of Queensland and Melbourne (Australia) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in the USA, developed a "virtual virus" that spreads between smartphones via Bluetooth. But unlike traditional digital “viruses”, which were created to steal information or harm victims, it has a more noble purpose: to model the spread of a disease like Covid-19. 

The virus is called Safe Blues, and it was created to respond to social proximity and distance in the same way as Sars-Cov-2, which causes Covid-19. It is composed of several "strains", which vary in their viral properties such as incubation time and infectivity.

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Each device involved in the experiment is considered "infected" for a limited period of time. During this time, if one device is close to another, there is a chance that a Safe Blues strain will spread to the neighboring cell phone. Likewise, if the device is kept in isolation, the variant is unlikely to spread.

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The idea behind Safe Blues is to accurately determine the transmissibility of diseases like Covid-19. The article notes that, in contrast to biological epidemics, the number of devices infected by each variant can be measured in real time.

"Safe Blues offers a real-time solution for real-time and population-level estimates of an epidemic's response to government directives and projections for the near future," says the article.

The researchers also developed an Android app for an experiment that will test the program's protocols and techniques on a university campus. They say the technology can be used to estimate current and future Sars-Cov-2 infection numbers.

Three-dimensional image of the Sars-Cov-2 virus, which causes Covid-19

Variants of Sars-Cov-2 may reduce vaccine efficacy

A new study involving variants B117 and B1351 concluded that these new strains of Sars-Cov-2 should evolve and reduce the effectiveness of vaccines available on the market. As a result, containment of these variants may be more difficult and reinfections may become more likely.

The research results are based on data on the effectiveness of the Novavax vaccine, according to David Ho, who is the study's lead author and professor of medicine at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons.

On January 28, the company stated that the immunizing agent's effectiveness was 90% against the original strain, but the rate was 49,4% in a trial conducted in South Africa, where most cases are caused by the variant B1351.

"Our study and new clinical trial data show that the virus is traveling in a direction that is causing it to escape our current vaccines and therapies," said Ho.

"If the widespread spread of the virus continues and more critical mutations accumulate, then we can be condemned to pursue the evolving Sars-Cov-2 continuously," he added.

Source: Android Authority