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Real Time, Non-Invasive Breath Test for COVID-19 Could Provide Results Within Seconds

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 18 Dec 2020
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Researchers are developing a real time, non-invasive breath test for COVID-19 that would provide results within seconds instead of days or weeks, and the initial data analysis of their research has shown great promise.

Mercyhealth (Rockford, IL, USA) and RJ Lee Group Inc. (Monroeville, PA, USA) recently concluded COVID-19-related research that utilizes a cutting-edge spectroscopic breath analyzer (BA), which allows experts to examine the compounds in exhaled breath associated with infection. This study is one of the world’s largest spectroscopic studies of breath in patients with COVID-19. Individuals being tested for COVID-19 using the gold standard nasopharyngeal swab test (or PCR) participated in the study which is one of the world’s largest spectroscopic studies of breath in patients with COVID-19.
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The comparison between the PCR and the BA has been encouraging to-date. While the data continues to be examined, so far it has shown significant promise, as the test shows about 85% sensitivity and 85% specificity. This test is attractive to medical providers, researchers and patients as the results are obtained in less than a minute. The researchers now plan to conduct similar studies at other hospitals and to reach out to the FDA for approval for its use as a rapid reliable screening tool.

“This is truly a novel approach to COVID testing, as it’s neither targeting antigen or antibodies, but rather physiologic changes of infection,” said Jonathan Wistrom, a scientific consultant for RJ Lee Group and operator of Practical Sustainability, a chemistry consulting firm based in Maryville, MO.

“Results to-date have shown we can confidently identify those patients who are truly sick with COVID-19. The challenge remains in those who test positive by PCR and negative by breath test and trying to figure out what that means, added Dr. Christopher Wistrom, emergency medicine physician at Mercyhealth.

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