Over the past 2+ years, government and medical agencies worldwide have spent countless hours studying COVID-19 and its variants. All along, there have also been widely differing scientific opinions on how to prevent and reduce its spread (see 1, 2, 3, 4). Additionally at least one state that didn’t shut down for COVID-19 had similar infection rate statistics as states that imposed mandates.
Of course, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also has a troubling history of approving ineffective and/or unsafe products (see 1, 2, 3). Only time will tell if this COVID-19 breathalyzer will prove to be one of them.
From Ars Technica:
The test device is about the size of carry-on luggage and performs GC-MS.
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday announced the authorization of the first breath-based test for COVID-19.
The InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer offers highly accurate test results in about three minutes, without the need for uncomfortable swabbing or collection of hazardous samples. But, before you get your hopes up for a handheld device you can huff into as you head out the door, it’s not quite that convenient. The test requires a high-tech device about the size of a carry-on suitcase—demo versions are literally housed in hard-shelled roll-aboard cases—and it requires a trained technician to operate. To take the test, a person has to sit next to the traveling instrument and blow into it through a straw for about 10 seconds.
The instrument inside the luggage is actually performing gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), which is a gold-standard analytical technique to finely separate out the components of a mixture. Generally, GC-MS samples are vaporized and mixed with an inert carrier gas before going through a capillary column, which separates out components by their boiling point and polarity. Then those components are ionized and fragmented and further separated out by their mass-to-charge ratios. The end readout is various peaks on a gas chromatogram, with each peak having a unique mass spectrum, allowing for the unambiguous identification of specific compounds.