The test makes it possible to detect the presence of the virus thanks to the analysis of the volatile compounds present in the air expressed.
- If the breath test is positive, the result must be confirmed by PCR.
- Each machine can analyze approximately 160 samples per day.
- Results are available in less than three minutes.
Exhale, you are tested! A new Covid-19 screening system was authorized on Thursday April 14 in the United States. The device can detect the virus in the breath, like a breathalyzer. Called “InspectIR Covid-10 Breathanalyzer”it was approved by the US health authorities, the Food and Drug Administration. The user must blow into a single-use straw, and the air expressed is analyzed by the machine, which is the size of a cabin suitcase. Thanks to the technique of gas chromatography, coupled with mass spectrometry, the test detects five volatile organic compounds associated with SARS-CoV-2. This “suitcase” screen has been designed for use in licensed healthcare facilities or by operators trained by healthcare professionals.
Results similar to other screening techniques
A study of 2409 people was carried out to validate this screening technique. The results show that the test has a sensitivity of 91.2%, which is the percentage of positive samples correctly identified by the test, and a specificity of 99.3%, which indicates the percentage of negative samples correctly identified by the test. . These data are similar to those obtained with PCR or antigenic tests, and superior to those of self-tests. But to obtain a reliable result, the breath test must be carried out under special conditions, because certain foods or substances can falsify the result. Thus, the instructions for use specify that the people tested must not smoke, drink or eat in the 15 minutes preceding the screening.
A solution to facilitate screening
Constraints probably easier to bear than the feeling of a swab in the nostrils. “Not everyone can provide a nasal sample easily”recalls Nathaniel Hafer, a molecular biologist and testing expert at UMass Chan Medical School in New York Times. This new technique could facilitate screening in the youngest and oldest, for whom the nasal test can be difficult. According to the scientist, this expansion of screening methods is “really precious”. “This clearance is yet another example of the rapid innovation happening around diagnostic tests for Covid-19.”welcomed Jeff Shuren, director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health from the FDA. After this authorization, the company InspectIR, which produces and markets the test, announced that it could manufacture around 100 devices per week. At this rate, the new tool could soon be able to analyze nearly 64,000 samples per month.