Belgian researchers developing fast 'breathalyser' coronavirus tests

Belgian researchers developing fast 'breathalyser' coronavirus tests
Illustration picture. Credit: Nkij/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 4.0)

Researchers at the University of Antwerp are working on a coronavirus test that can detect the presence of the virus in a single breath and within moments.

"The breath of someone with Covid-19 is different from that of a healthy person," researcher Kevin Lamote told VRT. "We are now trying to analyse those differences."

The test would function in a similar way to the breathalyser tests used by traffic police to measure drivers' blood alcohol concentration.

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Researchers are still at the initial phases of the development of the test, which consist in identifying certain particles that are present in the breath of someone who has coronavirus.

The new test would shorten the testing process significantly, with researchers saying they would be capable of delivering results within moments after being administered.

While the tests offer promising perspectives to authorities looking to deploy, streamline and speed up mass testing programs, Lamote said that the test would be most efficient as an initial screening tool to weed-out suspected cases.

"It will still be necessary to have subsequent test with a nasal swab to be sure of whether there is an infection," he said.

The team of researchers expects to have the tests ready by the spring of 2021.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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