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.
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.
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