COVID-19 breath test shows promise in study


By Reuters Staff

(Reuters) - A commercially available electronic "nose" manufactured by Dutch company Breathomix can reliably rule out COVID-19 by analyzing breath samples and would be a useful screening tool, researchers have found.

They studied more than 4,500 individuals who came to coronavirus test facilities in The Netherlands between August and December 2020. First, using breath samples from a small subset of those individuals, they taught the "eNose" what a breath profile of a COVID-19 patient looks like, "comparable with how your nose can distinguish the smell of coffee from the smell of tea," study leader Dr. Geert Groeneveld of Leiden University Medical Center told Reuters.

Later, the device was able to reliably rule out infection - with or without symptoms - in 70% to 75% of all individuals tested, with results available within seconds, he said.

In cases in which the eNose cannot reliably rule out the virus, patients can undergo traditional throat-swabbing tests.

The study results, posted on Tuesday on medRxiv ahead of peer review, "demonstrate that in a scenario where eNose is used as a screening test, this can reduce the number of throat and nasopharyngeal swabs," Groeneveld said, "which in turn can reduce the burden on individuals, economy and healthcare."

SOURCE: medRxiv, online February 16, 2021.

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