System developed to detect coronavirus in breaths

A Japanese university and company say they have developed a system that can detect the coronavirus in an exhaled breath.

Tohoku University and precision equipment maker Shimadzu completed a prototype of the testing system.

It has three components. The first absorbs exhaled breaths for about five minutes. The second inactivates any coronaviruses found in the breaths and takes in proteins contained in the viruses. The third analyzes the proteins.

The developers say the system can reveal a result in about one hour. They also say mass production of the large equipment is a challenge.

A clinical trial involving about 10 infected people has been conducted. The developers say more trials will be held, and that they will proceed with efforts to make the system smaller and put it to practical use.

Professor Akaike Takaaki at the Tohoku University School of Medicine said there are no research papers referring to attempts to detect the virus in breaths, and that their technology will probably be the world's first.

Shimadzu President Ueda Teruhisa said the system can not only show whether people are infected but also whether they may develop severe symptoms.