Breathalyzer test detects Covid-19 in under 3 minutes, FDA grants emergency authorization

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization Thursday for the first COVID-19 diagnostic test that detects chemical compounds in breath samples associated with a SARS-CoV-2 infection, providing results in less than three minutes.

“The test can be performed in environments where the patient specimen is both collected and analyzed, such as doctor’s offices, hospitals and mobile testing sites, using an instrument about the size of a piece of carry-on luggage,” the FDA said in a release. “The test is performed by a qualified, trained operator under the supervision of a health care provider licensed or authorized by state law to prescribe tests and can provide results in less than three minutes.”

The InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer was tested in a study of 2,409 people and was shown to correctly identify 91.2% of positive samples and 99.3% of negative samples — included among those tested were those with and without symptoms.

“Today’s authorization is yet another example of the rapid innovation occurring with diagnostic tests for COVID-19,” Dr. Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement. “The FDA continues to support the development of novel COVID-19 tests with the goal of advancing technologies that can help address the current pandemic and better position the U.S. for the next public health emergency.”

The FDA said positive tests should still be confirmed with a molecular test.

Here’s more from the agency:

The InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer uses a technique called gas chromatography gas mass-spectrometry (GC-MS) to separate and identify chemical mixtures and rapidly detect five Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection in exhaled breath. When the InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer detects the presence of VOC markers of SARS-CoV-2, a presumptive (unconfirmed) positive test result is returned and should be confirmed with a molecular test. Negative results should be considered in the context of a patient’s recent exposures, history and the presence of clinical signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19, as they do not rule out SARS-CoV-2 infection and should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or patient management decisions, including infection control decisions.

InspectIR expects to be able to produce approximately 100 instruments per week, which can each be used to evaluate approximately 160 samples per day. At this level of production, testing capacity using the InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer is expected to increase by approximately 64,000 samples per month.

 

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