A non-invasive Covid-19 breath test that could deliver results “within one minute” is being developed by UK scientists.
The technology, which was originally developed as part of a project known as TOXI-Triage, would use “breath signatures” to “rapidly distinguish Covid-19 from other respiratory conditions”.
The researchers said their findings, published in The Lancet’s EclinicalMedicine journal, could dramatically improve the experience of taking a coronavirus test as well as “play a part in restarting the economy”.
Led by Loughborough University, the project was launched four years ago with the aim of determining the most effective ways to give medical and toxic assessments to the casualties of a chemical, biological, radioactive or nuclear event.
The team involved in the project repurposed some of the existing technology to design a Covid breath test.
Paul Thomas, professor of analytical science from Loughborough University’s Department of Chemistry, said the team was encouraged by the findings but added more data was required to develop the test.
Emma Brodrick, systems application manager at the Imspex Group, a diagnostics company based in Wales and collaborating on the research, said: “Currently the two leading tests for Covid-19 – antigen detection and PCR – both utilise invasive means of taking samples, which can be uncomfortable for the patient and may discourage some from going to get a test they desperately need.
“We are excited to be working with NHS trusts in Scotland, Klinikum Dortmund in Germany and Loughborough University to develop a minimally invasive test that produces results rapidly – indeed in TOXI-Triage, our results were within one minute.”