Israeli company develops 'breathalyzer' COVID-19 test with 98% accuracy

Scentech Medical's test works like a breathalyzer that detects blood alcohol level, but the company says it can accurately screen for COVID-19.

A volunteer participates in the testing for the Scentech Medical coronavirus test, Shamir Medical Center (photo credit: SCENTECH)
A volunteer participates in the testing for the Scentech Medical coronavirus test, Shamir Medical Center
(photo credit: SCENTECH)
Israeli breath test diagnostics company Scentech Medical has developed a newer, more efficient – and seemingly more accurate – coronavirus test, the company announced.
During its preliminary testing, which has still not been completed, the company has seen 98% accuracy in the use of the test, which takes just a few minutes to perform.
The test in use is much like that which police use to test drivers if they are under the influence of alcohol – however, it is capable of accurately and quickly testing for COVID-19. The user breathes into a tube and waits a few minutes for the results as the test distinguishes between thousands of gas compounds in the breath.
As the technology is still in its testing stages, it has still not been approved for use, nor has it received approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Nevertheless, the company flew past the threshold required for a diagnostic test with efficacy at least equal to that of the "gold-standard" PCR coronavirus tests, with a sensitivity of over 91% and a specificity of over 91.2%.
With the company's "unique algorithm," it claims to be able to have an even higher level of sensitivity and specificity (98%). Such results are higher than existing commercial tests. The algorithm is one which is in standard practice approved both in Israel and around the world. These preliminary results could mean that the test is eligible for FDA approval.
Although many are concerned about testing efficacy with the new range of coronavirus variants rampant around the world – such as those in the United States, United Kingdom and South Africa – the test, according to Scentech Medical CEO Yaniv Hevron, can encompass them.
"Our system is effective in detecting asymptomatic patients, as well as new mutations and new outbreaks," Hevron told The Jerusalem Post.
The participants in the trials of the innovative COVID-19 test included healthy and corona-positive volunteers alike and merely had to wait for a number of minutes to receive their results back. However, Scentech hopes to move forward in speeding up the testing process further, aiming for a 30-second test.
"The biomarkers identified in the mapping process are a scientific breakthrough and the basis for the construction of a 'chemical fingerprint' that will be used to identify coronavirus, coronavirus mutations, and immunity status," the company claims. This system is currently undergoing testing at the Shamir Medical Center. The company predicts the testing will conclude by the end of March.
If and when the product is marketed, it can be used by any and all.
"It requires one operator with no technical skills," Hevron told the Post. However, at least at the first stage of planned release, it will not be made available for public use.
Scentech has already been in touch with foreign governments to discuss marketing the product abroad.
Scentech, in cooperation with Next-Gen medical – a company with which it is currently merging – initially received approval for experimentation of the testing protocol by the Institutional Review Board in April of last year.