The University of Miami is conducting a study on the effectiveness of a new COVID-19 test with Breath samples

Covid-19. Female nurse puts on protective gloves. Personal protective equipment in the fight against Coronavirus disease. Courtesy: Shutterstock – Photo By David Herraez Calzada

Scientists at the University of Miami are researching the effectiveness of a breathalyzer style test that would yield results within minutes.

The pilot program is aimed to test the alternative method of testing and its speed of detecting the virus.

UM is the first school to participate in the research program for the breath style examination with an Israeli-produced Breath Analyzer. The testing method is currently awaiting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to NBC 6 news.

The test is similar to the traditional police administered breathalyzer test for impaired motorists. “You just blow into it,” said Roy Weiss, chair of the Miller School of Medicine Department of Medicine and chief medical officer for COVID-19.

Weiss added that if effective, the test would be a game changer. 

The test would serve as an alternative to the painful nose swab and yield results faster than the current test. “It would allow us to test at a fraction of the cost and time of our current nasal swab test and as frequently and wherever necessary,” continued Weiss. 

The current Florida state totals for COVID-19 as of Nov 10. were 852,174 known cases and 17,248 fatalities, with daily numbers rising to its highest since late summer.

“What we are trying to do is help validate the test by comparing it to the gold standard for COVID-19 detection, which remains polymerase chain reaction via nasal swabs or saliva,” said Erin Kobetz, vice provost for research and scholarship to the local media. 

Upper-level students that live on campus have been tested through the nasal swab and saliva samples throughout the semester and were asked if they’d like to participate in the breath trials. As of now, there has been no word on whether or not it has worked. 

“We are trying to determine whether a saliva-based test will enhance our capacity to screen at greater frequency or in larger numbers,” said Kobetz.

UM officials are hoping to gather roughly 1,000 tests and analyze its data and, depending on the results, will keep an eye out on the FDA to see if the method is approved and gains emergency authorization for widespread use.

The university and its research team are confident and hopeful that the test will prove effective but are wary of jumping to any abrupt conclusions. 

If the test works, it will provide an extra method of detecting the virus and streamline results throughout the country and highly affected regions.

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