Forget Swabs, Singapore Approves COVID-19 Breathalyzer Test

And the test shows results in under a minute.
Fabienne Lang
Breathonix deviceBreathonix

To minimize time spent with swabs uncomfortably jammed up noses and throats, a Singapore-based company has developed a COVID-19 breathalyzer that it says detects the virus in 60 seconds.

Breathonix, a spin-off company from the National University of Singapore (NUS), received provisional approval for its BreFence breathalyzer from Singapore's Health Sciences Authorities on May 17. 

Even though vaccines are rolling out across the world, screening is still important and necessary to keep the virus contained, explained the company. Its non-invasive, rapid, and affordable device helps to do just that. On top of that, it doesn't require a trained healthcare professional for its use. 

Tests cost between $3.76 to $15.03 each depending on the amount purchased, Reuters reported. And the device currently has an accuracy rate of 85.7 percent in sensitivity, and 97 percent in specificity without AI, per Breathonix. The company says it's working on clinical trials to include AI to increase the tests' accuracy levels. 

If someone receives a positive test result, they must follow up by taking a regular PCR test. 

How it works

The system works by exhaling into a disposable one-way valve mouthpiece. Then, the Breath Test System measures and analyzes the VOCs biomarkers from the breath sample. And after clicking the Start, Stop, and Send buttons, the results are displayed in 60 seconds. 

Most Popular

This type of COVID-19 test would perhaps entice more people to quickly and easily get tested, without any uncomfortable swabbing — unlike one of China's methods, which involves sticking the swabs up patients' backsides.

The breathalyzer testing system has been mentioned in different countries around the world. Even as the pandemic broke out last year, researchers at Ohio State University were looking into such breath sample methods to pick up the virus in people.

And in countries like the Netherlands, Indonesia, and Japan, companies, and institutions have also been looking at using breathalyzers to detect the coronavirus rapidly and almost effortlessly.

Given how fast and accurate this type of testing method is, it could certainly speed up processes like getting into airports, restaurants, or factories much more quickly and safely.