Can A Quick Breathalyzer Test For COVID-19 Replace Nasal Swab Test?

Experimental Breathalyzer Test for COVID-19

Scientists report that an experimental Breathalyzer-type test can detect SARS-CoV-2 in seconds and could become a noninvasive, quicker substitute to nasal swab tests.

According to the researchers, SARS-Cov-2 infection causes a distinguished breath print due to the interaction of ammonia, nitric oxide, and oxygen in the body. The breath test correctly identified COVID-19 infections in nearly 9 out of 10 severely ill patients in a preliminary study.

The test can detect SARS-CoV-2 infection in exhaled breath in just 15 seconds. The team has applied to the US-FDA for emergency use authorization.

Experimental Breathalyzer Test for COVID-19

The research was conducted on 46 ICU patients having acute respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation. When the patients were admitted to the ICU, they were tested for COVID-19 using a PCR nasal swab) method and were tested positive.

The team collected exhaled breath bags from all of the patients on the 1st, 2nd, 7th, and 10th day of their hospitalization and tested the samples using the new breath test within 4 hours of collection.

The study report revealed that the test was 88% precise in detecting the COVID-19 breath print.

Dr. Matthew Exline, lead researcher, Director of critical care, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center stated that the golden standard for coronavirus diagnosis is a PCR test that entails an uncomfortable nasal swab and time in a laboratory to process the sample and get the outcomes.

Prof. Pelagia-Irene Gouma, test co-developer, Dept of Materials Science and Engineering and Dept of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Ohio State University, stated that this novel technology employs nanosensors to detect and determine specific biomarkers in the breath.

Gouma stated that this is the very preeminent research that illustrates the detection of a viral infection from exhaled breath prints using a nanosensor breathalyzer-type system.

Exline stated that the PCR tests frequently miss early coronavirus infections, and it can show positive results even after the infection has resolved. But, this breath test technology can detect coronavirus infection within 72 hours of the start of respiratory failure. This helps in enabling immediate screening patients in a single step and excluding patients on mechanical ventilation who do not have SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The team also intends to test the technology’s ability to detect less severe SARS-CoV-2 infections as well as other diseases and conditions.


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