No Swabs, Just Exhale…US FDA Approves First Breath Test for COVID-19

By: | April 21st, 2022

Image courtesy Pixabay

Global Covid-19 cases have surpassed 500 million and the fear of the third Covid wave is looming large. Testing is a critical cornerstone of the COVID-19 response to trace and contain the virus.

PCR-based tests are one of the most widely used diagnostic tests for accurately detecting the virus, but they can be time-consuming. So there is a need for detection methods to rapidly detect individuals.

Now, a simple breath test can deliver results in just three minutes

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted an emergency use authorization for the first breath test to detect the COVID-19.

The detection device is called InspectIR, it’s the size of a piece of carry-on luggage. The InspectIR Covid-19 Breathalyzer device uses disposable paper straws to carry out the test. You just need to blow in the paper straw, and it determines if the test is positive or not.

How does the device work?

To spot the presence of compounds associated with COVID-19, the test uses the gas chromatography gas mass-spectrometry technique to distinguish and identify chemical mixtures.

The accuracy of the device was confirmed in the tests conducted on over 2,400 people. The device had an accuracy of 91.1 percent. However, despite FDA authorization, a positive test is considered only “presumptive” and it needs to be confirmed with a PCR test.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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