he increasing number of coronavirus cases in different countries across the globe, has led to certain ‘Covid-zero’ countries and others to shut their international borders temporarily, in order to reduce the chances of virus spread.
In what could appear as a step towards easy detection of a Covid positive patient, the Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) has approved the official use of an ‘easy-to-use’ breath test, which will accurately detect COVID-19 in under a minute.
Breath-Analysis System Developed by Singapore
The product is termed as the BreFence Go COVID-19 Breath Test System, and is the first government approved breath analysis system.
The breath test system BreFence, is created by Breathonix Pte Ltd, a spin-off company from the National University of Singapore (NUS).
It has now been approved by the Singapore government and will work with the Singapore MOH to run a deployment trial of their technology at checkpoints where incoming travellers will undergo screening with the breathalyzer system, followed by the current compulsory COVID-19 antigen rapid test, states the university.
The BreFence Go COVID-19 Breath Test System is much like a standard breathalyzer used by police personnel to detect possible traces of alcohol through the driver’s breath.
The breath test is simple to administer and does not require medically trained staff or laboratory processing.
All one has to do is to blow into a one-way valve mouthpiece connected to a high-precision breath sampler, and the exhaled breath is then analysed for virus compounds through machine-learning software, generating accurate results within only a minute.
Any individual screened positive will need to undergo a confirmatory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 swab test.
“Our breath test is non-invasive. Users only need to breathe out normally into the disposable mouthpiece provided, so there will not be any discomfort. Cross-contamination is unlikely as the disposable mouthpiece has a one-way valve and a saliva trap to prevent inhalation or saliva from entering the machine”, states Dr Jia, Chief Executive Officer of Breathonix.
The system has undergone clinical trials at three different locations-two in Singapore and one in Dubai, from June 2020 to April 2021. The test has achieved a sensitivity rate of 93% and specificity of 95%.
The company’s COO has disclosed that the tests will sell for S$5 ($3.80) to S$20, each.