University of Wits to start trials for COVID-19 rapid breath test in June

Continued research and clinical trials for Covid-19 treatments and vaccines are happening globally in an effort to better understand the new coronavirus. Among them is a non-invasive, highly precise, portable breath test that could reach the market by the end of 2020.

The trial is a collaboration between US-based Canary Health Technologies and the South African Ezintsha Research Group at the University of Witwatersrand (WITS). The test, involving a handheld device with disposable sensors, is set to deliver on-site results in less than five minutes. The human trial is expected to begin in South Africa by the end of June, and trials are also planned in the United Kingdom and the United States.

This diagnostic test (COVID-19 RT BAP) could potentially identify those who are acutely infected with COVID-19 and those who have not yet developed clinical symptoms using exhaled volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in human breath as biomarkers of the virus.

According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), the test will greatly assist in identifying those who have not yet developed clinical symptoms but are infected (asymptomatic). The test could therefore quickly detect those at risk and help reduce transmission.

Speaking on the test, Professor Francois Venter, a world-renown infectious diseases expert, and Head of Ezintsha, said: “We are very excited to partner with Canary on this game-changing technology. This could revolutionize testing for COVID-19, to then build a base to detect many other diseases. A non-invasive and accurate test that healthcare workers can carry in their pockets is a win-win for all.”

If the initial phase of the trial is successful, Canary Health Technologies hopes to get it to the global market and will, therefore, move into another trial with a larger sample size for expedited regulatory approval with the US FDA and other markets.


Photo courtesy / Google

Article by Jedidah Mwangi