FDA Authorizes First Covid-19 Breath Test

The US Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to the first Covid-19 test that spots chemical compounds associated with the coronavirus in breath, the agency said Thursday.

The FDA said the InspectIR Covid-19 Breathalyzer, which is about the size of a piece of carry-on luggage, can be used in medical offices and mobile testing sites. It can give results in less than three minutes.

The system separates and identifies chemical mixtures to detect five compounds associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection.

A study of the InspectIR Breathalyzer found it accurately identified more than 91% of positive samples and nearly 100% of negative samples. Similar sensitivity was found in another study that focused on the Omicron coronavirus variant. However, a positive result should be confirmed with a PCR test, the FDA said.

“Today’s authorization is yet another example of the rapid innovation occurring with diagnostic tests for COVID-19,” Dr. Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement. “The FDA continues to support the development of novel COVID-19 tests with the goal of advancing technologies that can help address the current pandemic and better position the U.S. for the next public health emergency.”

There have been more than 80.7 million cases in the U.S. since the pandemic began, with more than 992,500 deaths, according to NBC News’ count.

While mask rules in many areas of the country have been relaxed or eliminated as cases have fallen, federal mask requirements for travelers on airplanes, trains and other transit systems have been extended into May.

In announcing the extension through May 3, the CDC on Wednesday pointed to increases in cases in the U.S.


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