Researchers at the Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Center in the US have developed a new rapid breath test that can detect Covid-19 in critically ill patients.

They are exploring the use of the new Covid-19 breath test to expedite the screening process instead of using an invasive nasal swab.

The breath detector device was developed by The Ohio State University Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering researcher and professor Pelagia-Irene Gouma in collaboration with Stony Brook University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering associate professor Milutin Stanaćević.

The new breathalyser was tested on 46 patients in the intensive care unit who were on ventilators due to respiratory failure.

Half of the patients that participated in the study had an active Covid-19 infection while the remaining individuals did not.

The exhaled breath bags of the patients were collected and the samples were tested within four hours of collection.

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In the initial study, the breath test was identified to have an 88% accuracy in testing patients with Covid-19 pneumonia.

The new device identifies and measures specific biomarkers in the breath using nanosensors and detects Covid-19 within 15 seconds.

Ohio State Wexner Medical Center University Hospital director of critical care and lead researcher Dr Matthew Exline said: “PCR tests often miss early Covid-19 infections and results can be positive after the infection has resolved.

“However, this non-invasive breath test technology can pick up early Covid-19 infection within 72 hours of the onset of respiratory failure, allowing us to rapidly screen patients in a single step and exclude those without Covid-19 on mechanical ventilation.”

Furthermore, the OSU researchers have submitted an application for emergency use authorization of the new breathalyser technology to the US Food and Drug Administration.