Saturday 24 October 2020

Fast Covid test development speeds up, latest gives result in less than a minute

Photo: Brandon Hartley

A Dutch company has developed a breathalyser test which will almost instantly exclude people who do not carry the coronavirus and which could significantly ease the pressure on testing facilities.

The device, which is made by Breathomix in Leiden and can detect particles in people’s breath, was tested on 1,800 people in an Amsterdam testing facility. They then had the more time consuming PCR test.

Investigations showed that some 1,350 people could have been sent home immediately had they taken only the breathalyser test. The device was able to exclude coronavirus in three quarters of the participants but was inconclusive in the remaining quarter.

Despite this it is thought that a large scale application of the test, which takes approximately 45 seconds, including the result, could ease the pressure on testing facilities, some of which are reaching crisis point.

The health ministry has ordered hundreds of the breathalysers which, on final approval, will be used by testing facilities by the end of next month, health minister Hugo de Jonge said on Thursday.


Meanwhile Dutch research institute TNO announced it has developed a fast test which it claims is as reliable as the PCR  process currently used in nationwide testing centres.

It too was validated at a facility in the capital and showed a 99% accuracy rate compared to the PCR test when used on 900 people.

TNO developed a so-called LAMP-test which works at a molecular level and gives a result in 45 minutes to an hour.

Last week, two fast tests produced by American companies BD and Abbot were approved by the health ministry. Each of these take 15 minutes to come up with a result,and will be used in addition to the normal health board tests.

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