Israeli technology company NanoScent has developed a device that can quickly detect whether a person is likely to have COVID-19 by 'smelling' their breath. The tech company specializes in software solutions that can detect and pinpoint exact locations of a wide range of scents.
They have previously developed a technology that can detect pregnancy in cows, check air pollution in various cities, and check someone's health through the scent of their poop.
NanoScent CEO Oren Gavriely and CTO Eran Rom decided to use their technology to help detect COVID-19. They said that their new technology is designed to help and replace commonly used thermometers while also providing health security for the public.
Can the Scent Check Device Be More Accurate Than a PCR Test?
The new technology is called Scent Check. The person being tested must breathe into the small bag plugged into an electronic scent reader to use it. In just 30 seconds, the sensor would give out a result, either positive or negative.
According to Orna Banash, NanoScent's research director, the Scent Check device is an inexpensive way to run a COVID-19 test.
The team aims to provide a technology that can accurately and quickly detect those people who might have or might not have SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Once a person's Scent Check test came back positive, they will be recommended to take a more accurate and time-consuming PCR tests that have been widely used today.
Barash explains that the Scent Check will never be as accurate as a PCR test as it is less sensitive, less accurate. But using the device can help ease lockdown since it can be used in open airports, universities, and people can now go back to their normal lives. But those suspected infected individuals will be sent for more testing.
Dogs Are the Gold Standard for Smelling COVID-19
Scent check works by detecting volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are chemicals that make up different smells and could vary based on various factors. Just like when a person eats or drink, smelling could also change, and also, the microbes that carry diseases like SARS-CoV-2 can change the way a person smells.
VOCs are chemicals that evaporate at room temperature. By catching them, the Scent Check will be able to detect any scent, Barash explains.
Barash said that dogs are the gold standard in detecting diseases by smelling. They have accurately identified cancer patients from those who are not. But it will still take much training for them to detect COVID-19 accurately.
This is where NanoScent comes. The new technology would be able to detect quickly those who are infected with the deadly virus. The tech company uses computers and machine learning techniques to make Scent Check more accurate over time.
For now, the new device has an 85% accuracy rate based on the 1,475 COVID-19 patients they have tested. The company aims to make that rate to more than 90%.
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