Singapore – NUS graduates have developed a breath test that helps detect the virus in a minute. The test will go on trial, as it were, at Tuas Checkpoint in a few days.
Breathonix, a spin-off company from the National University of Singapore (NUS), has got provisional authorisation from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for its breath-testing system.
The system will speed up Covid-19 testing.
No swab samples will be needed.
One will simply exhale into a disposable one-way valved mouthpiece connected to a breath sampler.
A mass spectrometer will analyse the volatile organic compounds (VOCs), the invisible particles, in the exhaled breath.
A healthy person will have a different VOC signature from someone who is ill. Different diseases produce different signatures.
The system has already undergone clinical trials in three locations from June last year till last month. Two of the locations were in Singapore — the National Centre for Infectious Diseases and Changi Airport — and the other was in Dubai.
The deployment trial will be held at Tuas Checkpoint by Breathonix and the Ministry of Health.
Incoming travellers will be screened.
Besides having their breath analysed, they will continue to undergo the compulsory Covid-19 antigen rapid test.
Anyone with a positive test result must undergo a confirmatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab test.
Dr Jia Zhunan, chief executive of Breathonix, confirmed that the breath test was “non-invasive” and users only needed to breathe out normally into the mouthpiece provided.
Professor Freddy Boey, deputy president of innovation and enterprise at NUS, shared that the success of Breathonix was a proud achievement for the NUS start-up programme.
Breathonix was set up by three NUS graduates — Dr Jia, Mr Du Fanf and Mr Wayne Wee — with the help of NUS Professor T Venky Venkatesan.
The NUS Graduate Research Innovation Programme (Grip) also provided some support, encouraging as it does talented NUS graduates and research staff to run tech start-ups.
Phuong Le Ha is an intern at The Independent SG/TISGFollow us on Social Media
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