A breathalyser for Covid-19?

Ohio State University researchers are testing a new breathalyser that could act as a cheap, quick and more patient-friendly test for Covid-19 compared with the current deep nasal swab.


The new project builds on primary investigator Professor Perena Gouma’s invention of a hand-held breath monitor for the early detection of flu. The sensor detects nitric oxide and volatile organic compounds from a person’s breath, which can indicate the onset of an infectious disease. Testing for this has now been expanded to two other metabolites that can reveal if a person is infected with Covid-19, even if they’re asymptomatic, she said. “Exhaling once in the breathalyser may help with earlier detection of the onset of the disease, as well as monitoring the severity of infection… allowing more timely therapeutic intervention.”


If proved accurate, the breathalyser could become a key diagnosis platform for a range of metabolic diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s or diabetes, by simply choosing the appropriate biomarker to sample, said Prof Gouma adding it will also allow for mass screening at airports or other gatherings.


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