Israeli, Chinese researchers develop AI breathalyser to detect Covid-19

A student reacts as a health worker takes swab samples at a primary school in Handan, China, on Aug 17, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JERUSALEM (XINHUA) - A team of Chinese and Israeli researchers has devised a novel artificial intelligence (AI) breathalyser device to detect Covid-19, the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) said Friday (Aug 21).

The new device was developed by Technion researchers, in collaboration with the University of Science and Technology of China, the First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University and Anhui Provincial Chest Hospital, all three located in the city of Hefei.

The device meets the need for a non-invasive, rapid, inexpensive testing method to screen Covid-19 positive individuals, especially pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers.

It is an intelligent nanotechnology, comprising a nanomaterial-based sensor array, which can rapidly detect Covid-19 from specific volatile organic compounds in exhaled breath.

The device can detect disease-specific biomarkers in exhaled breath with 92 per cent accuracy, 100 per cent sensitivity and 84 per cent specificity, Technion said.

"This pre-screening diagnostic system could offer a screening solution that can be performed at home or point-of-care facilities, greatly reducing unneeded confirmatory tests and reducing the burden on hospitals," Technion noted.

The researchers said that the device could also be used as a screening tool for airports, shopping centres and other public places where the risk of community spread is high.

According to the team, the device's AI can be modified and applied to any other infectious diseases and could be used in case of new disease outbreaks.

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