Breath test for virus in works

A prototype breath analysing device which can instantly detect if a person has Covid-19 was on display in Dunedin yesterday, and could be a "game-changer" in how we live in the world with the virus.

New Zealand distributor of the device, Boskein Science, was at the Jade Star Childcare and Learning Centre in Caversham yesterday, giving teaching staff an opportunity to try it.

Boskein technical adviser John Rawcliffe said the device was designed in Finland and had been used in the medical field for the early detection of a large number of medical cases in recent years.

It had now been developed to detect Covid-19, and it could bring an end to the unpleasant and time-consuming nasal swabs used to detect the virus at present.

Jade Star Childcare and Learning Centre manager Amanda Dore tries a new Covid-19 breath analyser,...
Jade Star Childcare and Learning Centre manager Amanda Dore tries a new Covid-19 breath analyser, which Boskein Science chief executive officer Raymond Neil hopes to start distributing in New Zealand next month. PHOTOS: PETER MCINTOSH
The prototype was now going through a regulatory approval process, and it was hoped it would become widely available in New Zealand as early as next month, he said.

"It’s a simple test in that you blow into the device — very much so like a [police alcohol] breathalyser.

"It analyses your breath for volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

"Up to 30 compounds get analysed immediately, and within one minute, it can tell you whether you have Covid-19 or not. It is that simple.

"It’s quite effective when you think about it, because it’s testing your breath, and that’s obviously where [Covid-19] is coming from and how we transmit it.

"It’s to the point of contact."

It could even detect if someone had Covid-19 before they started exhibiting symptoms, he said.

Boskein Science’s prototype Covid-19 breath analyser which is being assessed by the United States...
Boskein Science’s prototype Covid-19 breath analyser which is being assessed by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
Mr Rawcliffe said it was a possible game-changer.

"I hate to use the word game-changer — let’s wait until it’s approved — but this enables us to have more effective management of outbreaks, more effective controls to ensure there isn’t an outbreak.

"If we are going to effectively manage the impact of this virus, we need to look at different tools and different technology to do that."

He said the machine could be used at the New Zealand border, or even at doorways to high community spread areas such as schools and workplaces, to test people before they entered.

"It would increase the level of confidence in control we have over this virus.

"It’s a tool that can actually help us get back to normality."

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

Comments

I'm looking forward to this being presented to the respiratory physicians at Dunedin hospital (assuming the Jade Star Child Care and Learning Centre was a warm-up for that). Or are we worried it might not be so well received there?
Also, by whom is the technology being evaluated? Pharmac, perhaps? Not much substance to this article - in fact it reads more like an advertorial. Very disappointing.

 

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