New Study From Top Institutions Shows Why Temperature Screening for Coronavirus With Non-Contact Infrared Thermometers Does Not Work

| April 2, 2021

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic more than a year ago, widespread screenings among large numbers of people have been undertaken to limit the spread of the virus. Temperature checks have been the focal point of these screenings because fever is one of the earliest and most frequently reported COVID-19 symptoms. In most public screenings, such as at airports and large building entrances, non-contact thermometers are being used to take people’s temperatures. Now, a study¹ published by authors at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland shows that these non-contact infrared thermometers (NCITs) are ineffective and should not be used for public health surveillance.


“The medical community has long known that non-contact thermometers are highly inaccurate, but many have looked the other way and used them anyway. Acknowledgment of their ineffectiveness by these authors at these prestigious medical schools makes a powerful statement,” said Francesco Pompei, Ph.D., CEO of Exergen Corporation. “The medical community has an obligation to use accurate thermometers, and this study is an important step in eliminating those that are not.”


According to the study, mass screenings that rely on NCITs might seem to be quick and straightforward but are ineffective due to a variety of factors. Since NCITs measure surface body temperature vs. core body temperature, they are influenced by numerous variables that can interfere with their accuracy. These range from the person’s age and gender, even to considerations like weather, wearing makeup, or sweating. The study also referenced the fact that the body follows a circadian rhythm, highest in the evening and lowest in the morning. This suggests that twice-daily temperature screenings with an accurate medical thermometer can effectively screen for fever while using NCITs do not.



Exergen manufactures and markets two series of the TemporalScanner temporal artery thermometer: a professional thermometer for hospitals and clinics, and a consumer version sold in major retailers nationwide. More than two billion temperatures are taken each year with TemporalScanners. Used in thousands of hospitals and clinics across the country as well as in millions of homes, TemporalScanners are the #1 preference of pediatricians, nurses, and mothers. The Exergen TemporalScanner’s accuracy is supported by more than 80 peer-reviewed published studies covering all ages from preterm infants through geriatrics, and all care areas from hospitals to homes. For additional information, visit



¹ Wright and Mackowiak 2021. Why temperature screening for coronavirus disease 2019 with noncontact infrared thermometers does not work. Open Forum Infectious Diseases, Volume 8, Issue 1, January 2021, ofaa603,

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