People who suspect they may have COVID-19 could soon find out with a simple breath test that delivers results in three minutes.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization for a device called the InspectIR Covid-19 Breathalyzer.
How does the test work?
With a single-use sanitary paper straw people blow their breath sample, about the amount it takes “to inflate a small balloon,” into the system, according to the company, which looks for the chemistry and compounds associated with COVID-19.
The test, which must be administered by a trained operator, demonstrates a high degree of accuracy while taking up no more space than a piece of carry-on luggage.
“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 an agency news release announcing the approval. “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.”
InspectIR can run 160 samples per day and may be used at mobile testing sites, hospitals and doctors’ offices. The company can produce about 100 of the machines a week, according to The New York Times.
The test uses gas chromatography gas mass-spectrometry, a technique that separates and identifies chemical mixtures, to spot the presence of five compounds associated with the coronavirus.
The company anticipates leasing test devices to companies and within industries ideal for en masse screening such as