AN INNOVATIVE breath collecting device that could revolutionalise the way we diagnose the coronavirus has been developed by British scientists.
The breath test could be used to screen people in airports, GP surgeries, pharmacies or ambulances to give instant results.
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The technology, developed by academics at Northumbria University, Newcastle has secured regional support and funding for the next stage of development, according to the Daily Mail.
All patients have to do is breathe into the device, which is similar to a breathalyser, and it will retrieve biomarkers such as DNA and proteins in the breath which have diagnostic potential for diseases of the lung and beyond.
Currently, COVID-19 is tested using a cheek swab which is sent off for analysis at a Public Health England lab.
This process takes between 24 and 48 hours.
The new test could bypass this delay and forgo the need for temperature monitoring at airports.
Dr Sterghios Moschos, associate professor at Northumbria University is leading the research and development of the potentially ground-breaking technology.
He said: "In the case of the coronavirus, temperature monitoring is not sufficient.
"The World Health Organisation currently recommends testing nasal swabs, oral swabs and swabs from inside the lungs to avoid missing the infection.
"That's why it's vital that we develop non-invasive, quick and cost-effective tests for diagnosis and screening."
'HUGE IMPACT' ON GLOBAL HEALTHCARE
Although diagnosis from breath sampling has been used before, these methods have often proved unreliable due to contamination, loss of the sample and issues of variability in breath analysis.
The device developed in Newcastle has solved these problems so that data collected from the device matches results from lung samples taken surgically.
Researchers hope the technology could eventually be used in the diagnosis of lung diseases as well as other health issues such as diabetes, cancers, liver problems, brain and ageing diseases.
Professior George Marston, pro vice-chancellor at the university added: "Sterghios and his team, along with our fantastic partners, have the skills and experience to take this technology to market, resulting in huge impact on healthcare globally in the coming years."
The virus first appeared in Wuhan, China in December last year but the deadly disease has spread across the globe with cases in the US, South America, Australia and the Middle East.
Today the NHS declared its highest level emergency as the number of coronavirus cases hit 51.
The news comes hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed his "battle plan" to kill off the deadly bug in the UK.
Brits are being urged to do their part in the fight against the deadly disease by making sure they wash their hands and don't travel to affected areas.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned that the economic shock from the virus could "prove large".
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