UK Government Says Fever Cameras "Unsuitable"

By Charles Rollet, Published Jul 01, 2020, 07:41am EDT (Info+)

The UK government's medical device regulator, MHRA, told IPVM that fever-seeking thermal cameras are "unsuitable for this purpose" and recommends "caution" buying such products, saying they are "unlikely" to be compliant with UK medical device requirements.

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Moreover, the MHRA made clear to IPVM that manufacturers and sellers cannot avoid this by simply calling them elevated temperature devices.

Despite this, manufacturers in the UK, such as Dahua, Hikvision, and Mobotix are actively taking part in the global Multi-Billion Dollar Fever Camera Gold Rush, touting these often inaccurate products for 'back-to-work' style applications.

In this post, we examine the regulator's comments, the UK's fever camera market, and more.

UPDATE: Shortly after the publication of this article, the MHRA released a strongly-worded warning against fever camera usage. See the last section of this article for more.

MHRA **********

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************ *** ********** ******** ********** ****** (MHRA)** *** **'* ******* ****** *********.

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*** **** ***** **** ** ******* "caution" ** ***** "*********** **********" ***** products:

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MHRA ***** *********** ****** ********

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*** **** *** **** ****** *********** action ******* ********/************ ** ******* ******* with ****** ****** *** ***** ********* or ***** ********* ** ***** *** non-compliant **** *** ******* ****** ***********.

**** ***** **** ** ***** ************ providers ** ******* ************ ********.

Applies ** ****/**** *********** ****** ***

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******* ***** **** ****** *** "*****" in ***** *********:

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***** ** **** ******** ** *** front **** "*********** **********" ****** *******:

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*** **** ***** **** *******, ******* ********* * ***** ************** **** ******* ******* *** "*** a ******** *** ** ****** ** people **** *** *****".

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*** ***** ******* ** ** *** the ********* ********** ************ ******* ******* fever *******. ** ****** ****'* ****** director****** **************** **** ******* ******* "***** *** people's ****** ** ****" ** **** "do *** ******* ** *** ***** required":

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*** **** ****** ***** *******/******* "******* skin *********** ****** **** **** **** temperature":

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Comments (18)

The 'viral spread' of this marketing is remarkable. It's not helped by uninformed journalists who see 'exciting new tech' and provide free PR to uninformed buyers.

Once the immediate 'gold rush' dies down and/or people lose interest in COVID-19 and start dealing with the asteroid strike scheduled for late December 2020, this problem won't go away.

Over the longterm I predict 'temperature detection' will become the norm at turnstiles in office buildings and workplaces and specifiers will start to include it.

Knowing where so much of this technology originates a cynic might wonder whether this was contributing to the largest government facial database known to man...

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NOTE: The graphic would indicate that the Republic of Ireland is part of the UK, the Republic of Ireland isn't part of the UK and isn't governed by the MHRA.

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Thanks! fixed:

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The flag is upside-down too. You'd be (un)surprised to see how many citizens of the UK fly their flag upside-down, presumably unintentionally.

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#8, thanks for your first comment and our apologies on that mistake! It's now fixed, copied below:

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Btw, for others, here is an explanation and contrast:

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Thanks for making the correction. It will be even more important to correctly distinguish the Republic of Ireland going forward as Britain and Northern Ireland exit the EU at the end of this year. Ireland will remain in the EU and continue all EU Data Privacy regulations and have full market access as normal.

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I see many negative articles and subsequent comments on IPVM about companies that are doing it wrong and, by and large, I agree with these opinions.

I think there must be at least one or two companies taking a responsible approach to how they are approaching the undeniable market for "EBT/EST" cameras but I haven't seen any evidence of this yet...maybe I missed it?

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companies taking a responsible approach

One example: ADT: 'Fever' Cameras Are Medical Devices

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Partly, you may not be seeing many responsible providers as I believe many are not entering this space. Of the major non-Chinese security manufacturers the only confirmed entrants I know of are Mobotix, FLIR (the gold standard so far), Panasonic (via OEM) and Avigilon. As far as I am aware Pelco, Bosch, Axis, Hanwha and other popular brands that are capable of producing their own cameras are sitting this out so far. I suspect they are not willing to tarnish their brand until and if they can release a competent product that will not immediately cause issues with the FDA, IPVM and responsible integrators/distributors.

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Hanwha and other popular brands that are capable of producing their own cameras are sitting this out

Note, Hanwha has stated they are planning to enter this market segment later this year, though their marketing and public statements to date have been limited. To your point, I am interested to see how they position their offering.

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Excellent work on IPVM's part in exposing this fraud!

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There are several sides to this discussion that I find it interesting and at times amusing and ironic. From a product perspective I am neither advocating for or against the use of thermal screening systems. However...

If business/institution wanted to employ the use of thermal cameras (in spite of their apparent shortcomings) to quickly screen employees or visitors to a facility in an effort to efficiently identify individuals that potentially have an elevated temperature and once identified are referred to appropriate personnel to do a more thorough screening; why shouldn't they?

Yes, the systems should be deployed in a controlled environment and appropriate medical examinations using approved medical devices should be employed after the initial pre-screening by the system and employee's privacy rights should be protected. The use of thermal cameras may identify potential issues. No, the systems are not 100% reliable. Helmets, seat belts and air bags aren't 100% reliable either, but they are still used to enhance people's safety.

On the other hand I find it ironic that institutions who have failed the public time and again, are notorious for protecting their perceived turf and have provided conflicting information since the beginning of this pandemic believe they should be the final arbiter of how individuals and businesses conduct themselves. In my opinion they may be more flawed than the systems they are "protecting" us from.

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I take it you would therefore be equally happy to be in a car crash with a car whose seat belts and air bags aren't up to standards as opposed to one whose are??

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Interesting perspective. But, no my point was to use the best available seat belts and airbags you can find rather than not wearing them at all because some bureaucrat says you can't unless they say so.

There is a phrase that is often used when things are substandard; "its close enough for government work." That phrase didn't evolve because government has the highest standards and always gets it right. A quick look across the globe will reveal far more inept and corrupt bureaucracies than highly effective ones. In fact, when it comes to governments, one could argue that those attributes tend to be the norm rather than the exception.

Thermal imaging systems are a tool that could be used to funnel potential risks for a more thorough medical screening by appropriately trained personnel with approved medical devices. Anyone using a tool should be educated in their proper application and be keenly aware of their limitations.

As for government, President Reagan said it best, "the scariest words in the English language are "I'm from the government and I'm here to help.' "

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I think what he/she is saying is that the individual governments involved, and the WHO, have screwed up this pandemic response so bad one wonders if these large organizations in general can be trusted to provide any competent standards on anything.

Incidentally, you make an assumption that cars would not be safe if it were not for government standards. The reality is that manufactures would have huge incentives to make their products safe due to safety being a key thing the consumer looks for in purchase a car - and also to avoid lawsuits. Trade organizations and safety rating company (UL) would also be employed. Consumers could choose their own level of safety vs. cost when shopping for a car.

But largely - these things come down to freedom. Some want to take these freedoms away from people and have the choice made for them by the government. The State will tell you how large a soft drink you can have - it is not up to you to think you know what is best for yourself...

NOTICE: This comment has been moved to its own discussion: The Reality Is That Manufactures Would Have Huge Incentives To Make Their Products Safe Due To Safety Being A Key Thing The Consumer Looks For In Purchase A Car - And Also To Avoid Lawsuits.

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Hmm, firstly, trade organisations and UL safety ratings that you mention are certifications, so QED from my point of view. Equally, the perception of the WHO screwing up their response has been propagated largely in the US for domestic consumption and wouldn't necessarily be a globally held view, but that's a conversation to be had over a virtual beer in a virtual happy hour on some virtual conference somewhere...

I think, however, most of us could agree that if you decide to purchase some form of temperature scanning that doesn't have certifications, then you're basically buying a piece of plastic with lights. If you want something useful, then ask for the certifications and make an informed choice!

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How many viruses are fecal transmissions? Asking because I do not know? However is someone rips a greasy fart is it possible the farticles can impart disease? What about a stale tea bag in the lady's stool that sat there all weekend?

Not trying to be gross, but places where we do our other business need some attention such as port-a-pottys.

There has to be some group testing this possibility, unfortunate but true.....what is needed?

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UPDATE: MHRA Announces Fever Cams "Could Put People's Health At Risk":

Two days after this article, the MHRA published a press release warning that thermal cameras are "not a reliable way to detect if people have the virus":

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The press release is by far the strongest government announcement warning against fever camera use IPVM has seen. It quotes MHRA's device director Graeme Tunbridge stating that thermal cameras "could put people's health at risk" as they "do not perform to the level required":

Many thermal cameras and temperature screening products were originally designed for non-medical purposes, such as for building or site security. Businesses and organisations need to know that using these products for temperature screening could put people’s health at risk.

These products should only be used in line with the manufacturer’s original intended use, and not to screen people for COVID-19 symptoms. They do not perform to the level required to accurately support a medical diagnosis.

We are reminding anyone selling these products not to make claims which directly relate to COVID-19 diagnosis. If they fail to comply, we will take formal enforcement action. [emphasis added]

It also quotes UK Health Minister Lord Bethell explicitly warning these devices "do not work":

As pubs and restaurants begin to reopen, it’s important businesses do not rely on temperature screening tools and other products which do not work. The best way to protect customers and minimise the risk of catching the virus is to always follow social distancing guidelines, wearing a face mask on public transport and enclosed public spaces, and regularly washing your hands. [emphasis added]

The MHRA states fever cameras/devices "measure skin temperature rather than core body temperature":

Temperature readings from temperature screening systems will measure skin temperature rather than core body temperature. In either case, natural fluctuations in temperature can occur among healthy individuals. These readings are therefore an unreliable measure for detection of COVID-19 or other diseases which may cause fever.

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