New breathalyzer quickly detects people not infected with coronavirus

Leiden pharmaceutical company Breathomix has developed a breathalyzer that frees up testing lines by quickly detecting if someone is free from coronavirus infection. A test street in Amsterdam has been using the breathalyzer for the past few weeks with favourable results.

The breathalyzer works by detecting particles in the air that people exhale. The Electronic Nose (E-nose) — as it’s called — was tested by GGD Amsterdam, the Franciscus Gasthuis & Vlietland and the Leiden University Medical Center. It could immediately determine that three quarters of people in the line were clear of corona.

Much needed relief

The device can massively alleviate the increasing pressure on GGD COVID-19 testing facilities. Of the 1,800 people who used the breathalyzer prior to the regular swab test, about 1,350 of them were deemed fit to be removed from the line. “The test is an important addition to the tests that are currently available,” lung specialist Hans in ‘t Veen of Franciscus Gasthuis & Vlietland said.

But the breathalyzer’s fast results also mean that many people can go home and continue to work or go back to school, without having to first wait for days. The test will therefore potentially help to lower the social and economic effects of slow testing times.

Although the E-nose cannot yield results that are 100% accurate all the time, Hans in ‘t Veen believes it is a highly valuable screening test which makes the testing process smoother for everyone.

Breathalyzers to be rolled out across the country

The Ministry of Health has ordered hundreds of breathalyzers that will be distributed to the test streets of GGDs across the Netherlands. The test takes about 45 seconds, as test subjects simply breathe into the device for 30 seconds and then wait for the result. The breathalyzer is then disinfected, and the mouth piece and filter are replaced.

Finnish breathalyzers

Finland is currently producing about 100,000 devices similar to the Leiden breathalyzer. Breathomix’s device was actually created to detect asthma, COPD and cancer in test subjects, but was found to also work for COVID-19.

Would you use this new breathalyzer test? Let us know in the comments below.

Image: ©zstockphotos/

Emily Burger
Emily grew up in South Africa but has also lived in Egypt, the UK, Canada and now the Netherlands. She first came here for her Bachelors in Arts and Culture at Maastricht University and soon fell in love with the land of canals, clogs and cheese. When she's not daydreaming about sci-fi movies or countries yet to explore, you can find her writing for DutchReview.


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