Singapore approves COVID-19 breath test that works in 1 minute

Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has given the green light to a new breath test that detects Covid-19 in just 60 seconds.

The new technology may replace the conventional swab test and speed up world travel plans post-pandemic.

What is it?

National University of Singapore (NUS) spin-off company, Breathonix Pte Ltd, created the test. It is based on pre-existing cancer detection technology.

Clinical trials began in June 2020 at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases in Singapore. Consecutive trials in Singapore’s Changi Airport and Dubai’s University of Medicine and Health Sciences followed.

After the success of the trials, the test became the first of its kind to obtain provisional authorisation in Singapore.

“After months of hard work, we are delighted that the BreFence TM Go COVID-19 Breath Test System is now ready to be deployed to protect the nation,” Mr Du Fang, Breathonix Chief Operating Officer, said.

How does it work?

To use the device, a person simply blows through a one-way valve mouthpiece, similar to that of a standard alcohol-detection breathalyser test.

The machine detects Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the person’s exhaled breath. These compounds differ in a person with Covid compared to someone who is Covid-free.

Airport breathalysers compare samples of the traveller’s breath against samples of Covid-positive breath to determine a result.

Trained personnel will be responsible for administering the new Singapore Covid test.

World's Best Airport: Changi Airport Singapore
Image: Changi Airport Group

I’m confident that their novel technology will make a significant contribution towards protecting the safety and health of Singaporeans and the global community.”

Professor Freddy Boey, Deputy President of National University of Singapore’s GRIP team

What it means for us

Singapore is a common stop-over destination for many Australians. Although Singapore has reported low numbers of Covid-19 infections, tight restrictions remain around the country’s borders.

The test will begin by screening incoming travellers from Malaysia. It is possible that the test will be used in any travel bubble formed with Australia.

Singapore spin: Image: Leigh Griffiths
Image: Leigh Griffiths

Several overseas organisations are in discussion with Breathonix in regards to the implementation of the Singapore Covid test in other countries.

The price of each test could range from $5 to $20.

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