Covid-19 breath test trialled in Dubai is approved for use in Singapore

The non-invasive process gives results within a minute

The BreFence Go breathalyser can deliver Covid-19 results within a minute, said Breathonix, the company that designed it. Reuters    
The BreFence Go breathalyser can deliver Covid-19 results within a minute, said Breathonix, the company that designed it. Reuters    

A Covid-19 breath test trialled in Dubai earlier this year has been provisionally approved for use in Singapore.

BreFence Go was designed to deliver accurate results within one minute and was developed by start-up Breathonix and scientists at the National University of Singapore.

Its inventors will work with the city-state’s health ministry to test the technology on a sample of incoming travellers from Malaysia.

Under the pilot scheme, anyone who tests positive after using the breathalyser would be asked to take confirmatory PCR swab screening.

Singapore currently screens entrants with antigen rapid tests. This process would continue alongside the trial.

In March, Dubai health officials said the breath test would be used on 2,500 patients at Nadd Al Hamar primary health care centre to assess its accuracy.

Breathonix had previously conducted a pilot study involving 180 patients in Singapore and found the test had a sensitivity of 93 per cent and specificity of 95 per cent.

The device works by having a patient exhale into a disposable one-way valve mouthpiece. It measures and analyses levels of certain biomarkers – volatile organic compounds – that appear when the immune system is fighting disease.

The joint clinical trial was carried out with Dubai Health Authority and Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences.

The test is significantly faster than currently available methods, such as the PCR, the results of which can take up to 48 hours to process in local labs.

A faster result would help authorities isolate positive cases more quickly, before the virus can spread to others.

The breath test was trialled on 2,500 patients at Nadd Al Hamar primary health care centre in Dubai earlier this year. Dubai Health Authority    
The breath test was trialled on 2,500 patients at Nadd Al Hamar primary health care centre in Dubai earlier this year. Dubai Health Authority    

Breathonix said it was in discussion with several local and overseas organisations to use the system. Several countries, including Indonesia and the Netherlands, have rolled out similar breath tests.

Singapore has recorded 61,860 infections since the outbreak began, with more than 61,000 recoveries and 32 deaths.

Covid-19 testing in the UAE:

Updated: May 25, 2021 10:18 AM

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