The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the former test diagnostic for COVID-19 which works by detecting in the breath the chemical compounds associated with a SARS-CoV-2 infection. The technique used is called “gas chromatography-mass spectrometry”, thanks to which the compounds present in the exhaled air are separated and analyzed. The results can be obtained after only three minutes. Up to now, in tests conducted on about 2,400 people, even asymptomatic, it has shown an efficacy of 91.2% in identifying positives and 99.3% in identifying negatives.

Here’s how it works

When the device intercepts the markers that indicate the presence of the virus, it gives the result positive which will then be confirmed with a molecular buffer (the most reliable in circulation). These data were also confirmed in a subsequent study carried out during the period in which the prevalent variant was Omicron. “Today’s authorization is another example of the rapid innovation in diagnostic testing for Covid-19“said Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. Basically, it’s a breathalyzer-like test when stopped by a law enforcement patrol that requires the” balloon test. ” : the driver blows and analyzes the alcohol level in the blood. Somehow, the Americans have gone the same way to develop this new and fast tool to find Covid-19.

By whom it can be used

Ease of diagnosis and the feel of being non-invasive can represent a benefit for hospitals and healthcare facilities but can also be done in numerous other places as it is a mobile device the size of hand luggage. As the Courierhowever, the examination must be performed by a qualified person and under the supervision of a healthcare professional. It will not, therefore, be like the do-it-yourself tampons for home use as it happens in this period. Having said that the result is known in just three minutes, each machine can analyze up to 160 samples per day.

The use of breath as a diagnosis

The idea of ​​identifying Covid positives through had already been attempted last October by the Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry of the National Research Council (Cnr-Icb), presenting a device which was able to analyze some “condensate samples” of the exhaled air. Also in this case the results were very positive with an overall reliability of more than 90% and the response in six minutes instead of the three promised by the American ones. At the moment, however, the instrument has not yet caught on in Italy. The future answer, however, could be much broader and more important given that scholars have been trying to develop effective systems for diagnosing certain diseases simply by breathing for years: from liver to kidney disorders, from asthma to diabetes. up to tuberculosis, gastrointestinal infections and even tumors. This type of test is fast, non-invasive and less expensive than blood tests, which is why they could really represent the near future.

The precedent of the salivaries

As we have seen on, they have been tried but resulting in a flop i salivary testson the market but not recommended because they do not reach “the minimum acceptable levels of sensitivity (ability to identify positives, i.e. patients) and specificity (ability to identify negatives)“. That’s why they are excluded from the valid European tests to obtain the green pass.”The quality of the saliva sample is subject to many variables, such as the time elapsed since food or drink and how the swab was held in the mouth “ had affirmed al Courier Pierangelo Clerici, president of the Italian Clinical Microbiologists Association and of the Italian Federation of Laboratory Scientific Societies. “In general, tests of this type offer less guarantees than those that analyze a nose oropharyngeal sample“.

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