Cleveland Clinic working with Texas-based company to create breath test for COVID-19

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — Determining if a patient has been infected with COVID-19 could soon be as simple as blowing into a machine.

A concept that is nothing new, according to Dr. Raed Dweik, who is chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Respiratory Institute.

“We having been doing breath testing in my lab for many years now, over two decades now. We looked at many disease states, mainly lung diseases like asthma, pulmonary hypertension, lung cancer,” he said.

The clinic is now working with Texas-based Breath Tech Corporation to develop a breath test machine that would rapidly screen for coronavirus or related indicators.

“This device we’re using now is portable. We can take it to the patients or put it in a drive through or something like that. So that’s the advantage,” he said.

Dr. Dweik believes people will be more open to the new breath test since it would be non-invasive.

Its usage is two-fold: to determine if a patient’s illness is affecting the lungs and the nasal swab would also be used to confirm a COVID diagnosis.

As for concerns over false positives or negatives, he said “We have just done trials with this device to look at non-COVID patients to make sure it can detect different compounds of the breath of individuals.”

The next phase of testing will test actual patients currently battling the virus to determine its accuracy and compare it to the gold standard of nasal testing.

But the ultimate advantage is the results, which are instantaneous.

“We’ll know within in a minute whether it’s positive or negative,” he said.

The goal is to have the device readily available before the end of the year.

“The more we do, the better we can manage the pandemic,” said Dr. Dweik.

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