Researchers at the U.S. Department of Defense have developed a COVID-19 microchip blood detector that inserts into a person’s skin.
Dr. Matt Hepburn, a retired infectious diseases physician in the army, is leading a Pentagon effort titled “Enabling Technologies” to develop treatments for diseases. Hepburn told CBS’ “60 Minutes” Sunday that his team, operating under The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, was instructed by the government to take “pandemics off the table” with the chip development.
“You put it underneath your skin and what that tells you is that there are chemical reactions going on inside the body and that signal means you are going to have symptoms tomorrow,” Hepburn said. “It is like a ‘check engine’ light.”
Among some of the current projects that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is developing: a health-monitoring subdermal implant. It’s not a government tracking microchip, but rather a tissue-like gel engineered to continuously test your blood. https://t.co/1UDs9dBNcE pic.twitter.com/Zfph8xQUKC
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) April 11, 2021
Hepburn said the microchip would test blood levels perpetually, but attempted to downplay foreseeable privacy concerns with implanting government-funded technology into people’s bodies.
“It’s not some dreaded government microchip to track your every move, but a tissue-like gel engineered to continuously test your blood,” Hepburn said.
Rachel Bovard, policy director at the Conservative Partnership Institute, told The Federalist that “from contact tracing to vaccine passports, the COVID-19 response has blurred the lines between public health and privacy.”
“In some cases, this is necessary to fight a global pandemic,” Bovard said. “But if permanent changes are to be made, or if private industry is handed considerable license to demand individual health details, policymakers have to carefully consider the tradeoffs of commoditizing public health information in ways that make the private health data of Americans vulnerable to manipulation, misuse, and abuse.”
While there is no explicit reference to data gathering in the development of the microchips, Americans are understandably cautious of government technology and its uses. According to a CNN report on Monday, the Department of Homeland Security is working out a plan to bypass intelligence gathering protocol and use cybersecurity to collect data without warrants.