Singapore Approves New Covid-19 Breath Test Which Can Give Results In 60 Seconds

by Bhaswati Guha Majumder - May 26, 2021 09:04 PM +05:30 IST
Singapore Approves New Covid-19 Breath Test Which Can Give Results In 60 SecondsThe breath analysis system
  • All a person needs to do is blow into a one-way valve mouthpiece attached to a breath sampler.

An easy-to-use breath test that can detect Covid-19 within a minute has received provisional authorisation from Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

Developed by Breathonix Pte Ltd, a spin-off company from the National University of Singapore (NUS), this is the first breath analysis system to secure provisional authorisation in the country.

The test—BreFence Go Covid-19 Breath Test System—works almost like a standard breathalyzer test that police officers use to identify drink and drive cases.

All a person needs to do is blow into a one-way valve mouthpiece attached to a breath sampler.

For the measurement of volatile organic compounds (VOC), the exhaled breath is fed into a mass spectrometer.

Then a software algorithm analyses the VOCs biomarkers and delivers the result within 60 seconds.

This simple Covid-19 test can be performed by a trained person.

But it does not require medically trained personnel or processing in the laboratory.

However, a positive test result will need a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) Covid-19 swab test for confirmation.

The clinical trials of this unique test were conducted between June 2020 and April 2021 at three locations, including Singapore’s National Centre for Infectious Diseases and Changi Airport.

In partnership with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, a trial was conducted in Dubai, involving 2,500 participants at DHA’s Nadd Al Hamar primary health care centre.

As per the pilot study, conducted in Singapore on 180 volunteers, the breathing Covid-19 test was found to have 93 per cent sensitivity and 95 per cent specificity with a machine learning algorithm.

At this moment, when the south-east Asian country is facing a current surge in Covid-19 cases, the breath test could help the nation to unlock the borders safely, allowing travellers only after the test is conducted.

Even as per the NUS, Breathonix is currently working with the Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) to conduct a deployment trial at Tuas Checkpoint where travellers entering the country will be screened with the breath test system.

Du Fang, who is Breathonix’s chief operating officer, said: “We are proud to play a part in Singapore’s fight against Covid-19 by turning our cancer detection technology into a system that rapidly screens for the coronavirus.”

“After months of hard work, we are delighted that the BreFence Go Covid-19 Breath Test System is now ready to be deployed to protect the nation,” Du added.

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