French researchers are currently working on a coronavirus screening test on the same principle as a breathalyzer. At the moment, only two tests allow to know if someone has (or not) the coronavirus Sars-Cov-2: the PCR test (or nasopharyngeal screening — the most practiced) consists in introducing a long cotton stem in the patient’s nose to identify the presence of the virus through specific RNA; serological tests (Elisa, TDR and TROD) are blood tests which allow the detection of specific antibodies against the coronavirus.
Presented as less restrictive and faster, the EasyCov saliva test is not yet available. And now, researchers from the International Center for Infectious Disease Research at the Institute of Analytical Sciences and the Institute for Research on Catalysis and the Environment in Lyon (France) are working on a new model-based screening test for the coronavirus.
With this new test, it will be enough for the patient to blow in a mouthpiece to know if he or she suffers from Covid-19 or not, in the space of only a few minutes. Certainly, less unpleasant than a serology or a nasopharyngeal test!
How does it work? “It is a mass spectrometer which measures volatile organic compounds, even in minute quantities, present in the exhaled air, explains Parisian Christian George, deputy director of the Institute for Research on Catalysis and the Environment in Lyon. This air contains thousands of molecules and, in the event of infection, the cells produce viral proteins which it is necessary to identify. “
When will this test be available? For the moment, nothing is certain. The researchers (who say they are “rather optimistic”) will continue the tests this summer and hope to market them to the public in the fall. “This is for the moment an experiment at an early stage, but which could, in the long term, simplify the tests of the Covid, if its potential was proven,” they conclude.
Hugues Louissaint is an entrepreneur and writer, living in the US for over a decade. He has launched successful products such the Marabou Coffee brand, which has been highly successful in Florida. He has also been a writer for more than 5 years focusing on science, technology, and health. He writes part-time for the Scientific Origin and provides valuable input on a wide range of subjects.