Coronavirus: UAE firm working on non-invasive test to detect Covid-19 within a minute

The test detects a biomarker in exhaled nasal air in up to 60 seconds

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A UAE company is working on creating a Covid-19 test that will detect the virus in up to 60 seconds.

G42 Healthcare, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42, signed an agreement with NanoScent, an Israeli company specialised in scent reading technologies, to develop and distribute Scent Check, a device capable of detecting suspected cases of Covid-19 from a sample of exhaled nasal air.

The Scent Check device detects a combination of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, from exhaled nasal air that is derived from the patient's response to the SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The patient will blow nasal air into a small bag fitted with a straw known as an "Air trap". The device then analyses the sample and provides the result in 30 to 60 seconds.

A demonstration of the Scent Check device at the signing of the agreement on Wednesday. Courtesy: G42 Healthcare
A demonstration of the Scent Check device at the signing of the agreement on Wednesday. Courtesy: G42 Healthcare

The non-invasiveness and speed of results give Scent Check the potential to transform the diagnostics industry globally, reported state news agency Wam. The test does not require complex infrastructure and is cost-effective.

During the agreement signing, held via video conference, Ashish Koshy, chief executive of G42 Healthcare, and Oren Gavriely, chief executive of NanoScent, discussed ways of leveraging respective expertise and technologies to find a solution to the virus.

They said that, in absence of a vaccine, mass testing is the most effective way to break the transmission patterns of Covid-19.

"At G42 Healthcare we are at the forefront of the battle against Covid-19 and committed to developing impactful innovative programmes and solutions to improve and safeguard public health. Through this collaboration with NanoScent, we will be adding another powerful solution to our comprehensive diagnostics portfolio, which already includes PCR and LamPORE testing," said Mr Koshy.

He said Covid-19 must be tackled with a joint global effort with organisations coming together to share their knowledge for the benefit of society.

G42 Healthcare will conduct thousands of tests for the Scent Check device in the coming weeks to check its efficacy and increase its accuracy before it is made available across the Emirates.

The company is also involved in the Phase III clinical trials for an inactivated Covid-19 vaccine, developed by a Chinese pharmaceutical company, in the UAE.

Several different Covid-19 tests are currently available across the UAE. These include the standard nasal swab PCR test, the Dh50 laser DPI test, which scans the blood for any infections, the LamPORE test, designed to test both saliva and swab RNA samples and the serology test that scans for Covid-19 antibodies.