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60-second breath test to detect COVID-19 with IONICON PTR-TOFMS

Singapore start-up develops fast breath test based on PTR-TOF technology

SARS-CoV-2 still has the world in its grasp. A quick, non-invasive test to detect Corona disease would be a tremendous game changer in combatting this pandemic. This might become reality soon: a Singapore start-up has developed a real-time COVID-19 breath test based on our PTR-TOFMS trace gas analyzers. Breathonix, a spin-off from the prestigious NUS (National University of Singapore), combines our PTR-TOF analyzer with their own machine learning software. 

Their non-invasive COVID-19 test takes less than one minute and has been on a pilot clinical trial together with the National Centre for Infectious Diseases involving 180 patients. The results are promising, achieving 90% accuracy with 93% sensitivity. 

Dr. Jia Zhunan, Breathonix CEO, explains: “93% of sensitivity means that using the biomarkers we identified, we are able to correctly classify 93 patients as positive among 100 positive patients, 95% specificity means we are able to correctly identify 95 patients as negative among 100 negative ones.” 

We support Breathonix’ vision with expert advice, derived in many breath gas research projects, OEM PTR-TOF trace gas analyzers and breath sampling solutions. It is our mission to contribute to our customers endeavors to advance the frontiers of science. 

Update May 2021: The easy-to-use breath test that can accurately detect COVID-19 within a minute has now received provisional authorisation from Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA). The BreFence™ Go COVID-19 Breath Test System, based on IONICON PTR-TOFMS and dedicated breath inlet system technology, is the first breath analysis system to secure provisional authorisation in Singapore. Breathonix is now working with the Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) to run a deployment trial of their technology at an entry checkpoint where incoming travellers will undergo screening with the system.

The breath analysis system underwent clinical trials at three locations conducted from June 2020 to April 2021. In Singapore, trials were carried out at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases and Changi Airport while the third trial was carried out in Dubai, in collaboration with the Dubai Health Authority and the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences.

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Breathonix team in front of an IONICON PTR-TOF analyzer. © National University of Singapore