Test for Covid-19 in seconds - a new development of British scientists
The first tests of a new breath test for coronavirus confirm that a simple way to detect an infection in a few seconds, rather than hours, as it has been so far, may soon appear. The complete test takes minutes.
A breath test developed in Wales can detect Covid-19 and distinguish it from other respiratory tract infections almost instantly.
The test results of the new test, conducted in Scotland and Germany, are published in the respected medical journal Lancet.
Its developer, Imspex Diagnostics, said the test instrument would be ready for use in six months if funding is found.
"The outlook, I think, is very inspiring," said founder and CEO Santi Dominguez. "The fact that it is instant will allow it to be applied in a wide variety of situations, not just in hospitals."
"Its potential is seen in aviation, in transport in general, in working with migrants. A breath sample can be taken quickly, it is not invasive, you do not need a specially trained person, and in a few minutes you already have a result," he says.
The device is reportedly based on technology originally used in the development of tests to diagnose diseases such as lung cancer, and to quickly distinguish bacterial from viral infections.
However, after the outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic, the firm decided to focus its efforts on diagnosing the coronavirus.
"We have experience in this area, including the experience of using such devices. When the coronavirus appeared, it made us switch to this direction," says Dominguez.
There have been two trials of tests based on this technology - on patients in hospitals in Edinburgh and Dortmund.
Researchers were trying to understand if such a device could distinguish Covid-19 from another infection.
The device analyzes a breath sample, looking for unstable chemical elements that provide a clue to the type of respiratory illness.
The tests were able to identify the Covid-19 signature in these elements, which was later confirmed by other, invasive testing methods.
The tests were able to detect Covid-19 in 80% of cases, distinguishing the coronavirus from other diseases, such as asthma or bacterial pneumonia.
Tests carried out in Edinburgh also identified chemical elements that are likely to determine the severity of the disease and the risk of death.
"If these tests prove to be reliable, they will open up the possibility of quickly diagnosing Covid-19 in clinics or emergency departments, which will greatly facilitate the work of medical staff," the scientists say.
It is especially important to quickly identify Covid-19 during periods of influenza epidemics, which may have similar symptoms.
Scientists are extremely inspired by the new development, but while its testing was not large enough, it was carried out on about 100 patients.