New tool in the fight against Coronavirus


A new Coranavirus test, based on exhaled air, is being developed at Leuven University Hospital, in collaboration with the Imec technological research centre, which has become one of the world's leading micro- and nano-electronics R&D centres.

Three types of tests are currently available for the detection of Coronavirus. The reference test, PCR, is a molecular diagnostic test that shows when a person contracts a virus. Antigenic tests, simpler and faster to perform than laboratory-based PCR tests, are part of the new screening strategy but considered less reliable due to their complexity. Lastly, serological tests, based on a blood sample, can only verify a patient's antibody production.

The Flemish Minister for Innovation has announced that a new type of test, based on exhaled air, is currently under investigation. Its reliability is based on the fact that exhaled air is the main route of transmission of the virus, and this revolutionary test offers the huge advantage of confirming within five minutes whether a person is a carrier and likely to transmit the virus.

The researchers' goal is to have a prototype available by summer 2021. Two million euros have been made available for the test to be carried out at Brussels Airport during this period.