Breath Analyzer to detect COVID-19 developed by Singapore startup

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Breathonix Breathanalyzer
Representational Image

Singapore-based startup firm Breathonix has unveiled a breath analyzer test unit that can detect novel coronavirus infections in people in under a minute. 

The test which uses a breath analyzer technique widely used to check alcohol levels among drivers is said to have 90 percent accuracy in a pilot clinical trial of 180 people in the city-state.

The firm which based out of the National University of Singapore will seek regulatory approval for the product early next year.

The invention is a fresh take on cheap, fast and highly accurate COVID-19 tests the world is striving for as an alternative to the invasive and short-stocked Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) nasal swab tests.

Breathonix is currently expanding its trial in Singapore and hopes to improve accuracy and get the green light to go commercial in the first quarter of next year.

The test which roughly costs $20 is almost 70 percent cheaper than the widely conducted PCR tests which will be used on the individual who tests positive on the device to reconfirm the diagnosis.

Dr Jia Zhunan & Dr Du Fang
Breathonix co-founders Dr. Jia Zhunan (left) and Mr. Du Fang

“The breath test is more like a first-level screen device,” said Jia Zhunan, co-founder and CEO of Breathonix who mostly sees the solution being deployed at conferences, sports events and concerts.

The device uses a disposable mouthpiece and is devised to ensure there is no cross-contamination.

Once the individual blows into the unit, it analyses the chemical compounds of the breath to determine whether or not a person is infected. Results are generated by a computer within 60 seconds.