Breath Test for COVID-19

Adjusting to the new normal is where all governments are focused right now. The virus may or may not be eradicated the life has to go on. Testing for COVID-19 is where the most focus, and thus investment is. As part of the global fight against the virus, some nations have started trials of breath test designed to detect COVID-19.

Will you really need a COVID-19 vaccination certificate to allow someone to enter the country and decide whether to quarantine them or not if a simple breath test on arrival could detect the infection?

The answer is – the more tools to fight the virus the better.

A simple breath test will indeed be very handy.

Researchers in Singapore have developed a breath test to detect Covid-19 in less than a minute.  

Developed by Breathonix Pte Ltd, a spin-off company from NUS, this game-changing technology, achieved more than 90 per cent accuracy in a Singapore-based pilot clinical trial that involved 180 patients.

A person would have to blow into a disposable mouthpiece connected to a “high-precision breath sampler”, according to the National University of Singapore researchers. The test, which detects Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) in a person’s breath, achieved more than 90 per cent accuracy in a clinical trial involving 180 patients.

The exhaled breath is then collected and fed into a mass spectrometer for measurement. A machine learning software subsequently analyses the VOC profile and generates the result in less than a minute.

“The disposable mouthpiece that our system uses has a one-way valve and a saliva trap, preventing inhalation and any saliva from entering the machine. This makes cross-contamination unlikely,” said Mr Du, Chief Operating Officer of Breathonix.


Over in Israeli, pharmaceutical company NextGen Biomed also announced it is inching closer to be able to map traces of COVID-19 in the breath and lead to the creation of a breathalyzer test to identify the virus.

This is the result of a study by Scentech medical, a Tel Aviv-based company specializing in breath-test diagnostics.

NextGen said the study had successfully identified certain gas compounds in the breath linked to the coronavirus.

Researchers in Israel are very encouraged by the success in identifying the indicators and moving closer to completing initial performance biomarkers and the start of broader research for swift testing using breakthrough technology.

Once the findings are verified, the process to create an accurate breath test for coronavirus will begin.

A UK based company ANCON Medical, specializing in breath-test diagnostics, has also been developing a COVID-19 breath test and began trials in UK hospitals in August.

Meanwhile the virus numbers globally continue to be mind boggling, particularly in light of the number of infections and deaths in China being just a fraction of what other nations have had to deal with. There have been more than 8 million infections in the US with more than 220, 000 deaths while in India the number of infections is 7 million plus with more than 115, 000 fatalities. Surprisingly, the number of infections in China is just above 90, 000 and less than 5000 deaths.

COVID-19 Infections Deaths
Globally – 41, 061, 138 (more than 41 million) 1, 128, 226 (more than 1 million)
US – 8, 319, 271 (8.3 million plus) 221, 816
India – 7, 651, 107 (7.6 million plus) 115, 914
Brazil – 5, 273, 954 (5.2 million plus) 154, 837
China – 91, 030 (just over 90 thousand) 4,739 (under 5 thousand)
Australia – 27, 444 905

When one compares the size of China’s population to that of Australia’s and the world’s, the measures and the effort Australia and the countries around the world have taken to control the spread and the resultant cost of it all, someone needs to explain how could China come out of it totally unscathed.

Researchers in Singapore believe if  assessed to be suitable, “this breath analysis platform could potentially be deployed in airports to facilitate the recovery of the tourism sector, as well as in places with high human traffic, such as dormitories.

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