10/30/2020, 10.43
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Singapore launches Covid-19 'breathalyser', it detects infection in under a minute

Breathonix, a start-up linked to the national university, has developed a test similar to the breathalyser for alcohol. 90% reliability, but work is underway to make it even more accurate. The goal is a green light for use by the first quarter of 2021.

Singapore (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A Singapore company claims to have developed a test very similar to that of the breathalyser for detecting the alcohol level in the blood, to trace a possible coronavirus infection. All of this, according to the researchers at Breathonix, in less than 60 seconds and with an accuracy - compared to the traditional detection method - of about 90%.

The company, a recently formed start-up born within the national university of Singapore, confirms the high reliability of the surveys carried out so far in the context of a clinical trial that involved 180 people in the city-state. In a note, Breathonix explains that it is finalizing the final steps and is ready to apply for - and obtain - the license for use early next year.

A veritable race against time is underway all over the world to develop rapid and reliable tests that allow the presence of a person infected with the new coronavirus to be detected. At the moment the molecular buffer (PCR) is used, which in addition to being invasive, and requiring trained personnel, requires laboratories and equipped structures to carry out an analysis of several hours. This involves a delay in the detection of possible contacts and in the interruption of the chain of infections, which is what is happening in recent weeks in various European countries.

Breathonix is ​​currently developing its tests in Singapore with the aim of further improving accuracy and receiving the green light for commercial use in the first quarter of 2021. At a cost of around , this method is estimated to be about 70% cheaper than the classic swabs, which would then be used secondarily "because they are more sensitive", as confirmed in the case of a positive detection on the spirometer.

“The breath test is more like a first level screen device,” said Jia Zhunan, co-founder and CEO of Breathonix, adding it could be deployed at conferences, sports events and concerts.

The device uses disposable mouthpieces and is designed to ensure there is no cross-contamination.

After blowing into the device, it assesses the chemical compounds of the breath to determine whether a person is infected. Results are generated by a computer within 60 seconds. A similar device is also being studied in France, within a hospital. However, experts have warned that the system may be too expensive for large-scale deployment.

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