Coronavirus breath test system is not delivering ‘desired results’: Volkskrant

Healthcare minister Hugo de Jonge tests the system. Photo: Joris van Gennip ANP
Healthcare minister Hugo de Jonge tests the system. Photo: Joris van Gennip ANP

Regional health boards are refusing to use the much-heralded coronavirus breath test system because it is not delivering the desired results, the Volkskrant reported on Thursday.

The system should have been used at dozens of locations around the country as an alternative to the nasal cavity test but most are now languishing in storage, despite the multi-million euro investment made to develop them, the paper said.

The central health board body GGD GHOR refused to confirm the reports, telling news website that the preparations to use the SpiroNose are continuing. ‘Recommendations will be made to the health ministry on the basis of data collecting during the preparatory phase,’ a spokesman told the website.

‘The ministry will then take a decision on the next steps, and until then we cannot say any more about the follow ups.’

The breath test, developed by Leiden company Breathomix, was introduced in Amsterdam on January 29 on the advice of the government’s Outbreak Management Team. But a number of people were cleared of having coronavirus by the system and later confirmed to have it via a PCR test.


After an internal investigation, the breath test was reinstated and described as ‘very reliable’. Since then, however, faith in the system has depleted and, the paper says, the cabinet is expected to ditch the project shortly.

The Volkskrant does not make it clear what the problems are. ‘Several health boards have since lost confidence in the test and insisted on additional control tests to show how reliable the breath test really was,’ the paper said.

These checks took place in three test centres in recent weeks. For the vast majority of people, the results were so unreliable that they had to do another test.’

The most recent comment on the Breathomix website states that: ‘Breathomix’s breath test has been tested for a number of months at the Amsterdam test centres in Noord and in the RAI. We are currently consulting with the health boards and ministry about the best strategy for further rolling out the breath test.’

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