The breathalyser gives results as accurate as other nasopharyngeal RT-PCR tests within 18 minutes. The test is also able to give accurate results even when patients are pre-symptomatic.
Ahead of the colder months and festive gatherings, a breathalyser may be changing the way that public authorities test for COVID-19. Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates shared a tweet about the innovative new product from Imec, an R&D and innovation company.
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“Testing for viruses with a breathalyzer? It’s possible. Pretty incredible to see the innovative work happening at Imec,” shared Gates on Twitter.
Since the start of the pandemic over two years ago, scientists and public health officials have been searching for faster ways of identifying infections. Faster identification is one of the ways to prevent smaller clusters of infections from turning into larger waves of infection. A breathalyser test could allow for multiple tests to be done while still delivering quick results. According to Imec’s website, the breathalyser gives results as accurate as other nasopharyngeal RT-PCR tests within 18 minutes. The test is also able to give accurate results even when patients are pre-symptomatic.
“Imec strongly believes in the power of aerosols for diagnostics and for gaining insights into disease transmissions. That's why this new test is not based on exhaled volatile organic compounds (VOCs) but on RT-PCR. This last technique is also practiced in clinical laboratories to achieve high sensitivity and specificity,” the company says on its website. Currently, the breathalyser is under various stages of peer review over its clinical trials.
Imec’s product is not the only breathalyser being developed to test for COVID-19. The US Food and Drug Administration had given emergency use authorisation to a test produced by InspectIR Systems earlier in the year. InspectIR’s test also relied on exhaling into a tube and produced results within just three minutes.
(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)