Coronavirus: new breath screen tests on the test bed

Published by Cécile D. · Published on 7 September 2020 at 12h24 · Updated on 7 September 2020 at 19h16
Less invasive, quicker, new Covid-19 screen tests are being experimented in Lyon. Scientists from the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) have come up with a painless test, that reminds of breathalyzer: you only have to blow in so the device can detect traces of the disease in the air released by our lungs.

Are blood tests and long swabs pushed far in the nose to end soon? In Lyon, scientists from the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) have created new coronavirus screening tests. Designed like a breathalyzer, you only have to blow in the device so it can detect – or not – the disease in the air released by our lungs. More precise, quicker, less invasive, these screen tests could make medical staff’s and tested people’s daily life easier.

Lyon searchers have been already using their device to test under real conditions. At the hôpital de la Croix-Rousse, a 250-kilogram machine represents all doctors’ hopes. Bound to this big machine, a tube, patients blow in. In a matter of minutes, diagnosis is given: contaminated or not contaminated. The air released is analyzed and compared in real time with SARS-CoV-2 markers, the virus’ unique signature. “By combining the analysis and the statistical tools, we are able to tell if this is a Covid case or notMatthieu Riva, entrusted with researches at the CNRS, explains.

This new machine is still being tested, but results are more than encouraging. In the meantime, medical staffs keep on performing RT-PCR tests in a systematic fashion to compare results and test the reliability of the method. According to searchers from the CNRS carrying out this study, the machine scores a 100% success rate.

Such results let us hope that it could be quickly extended to the general public. “Imagine you must test 5,000 people, you could use ten of these machines and do so in under an hour” virologist and member of the Scientific Committee Bruno Lina says. “And if it can be miniaturized, this could be used in doctor’s offices”. Searchers are currently debating with industrial partners to develop their machines on a greater scale. By the end of the year, this machine could be generalized, especially in airports and stadiums.

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