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Key Highlights

The breathalyzer tests have been claimed to be the most non-invasive method of testing for COVID-19

Indonesia has been one of the most adversely affected countries in Asia due to the COVID-19 pandemic

The product has its critics but data in the next weeks and months will show how effective the Indonesian method can be to detect COVID positive passengers

Indonesian authorities have recently launched a new screening programme where train station passengers can get checked for the Covid-19 virus. The country has been one of the worst affected regions in Asia and continues to reel from the virus. Developed by the University of Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, the breathalyser, known as GeNose can detect the COVID-19 virus from body tissue in the respiratory tracts with up to 95% accuracy.

To get the results, a person has to blow into a bag and they just need to wait for two minutes to know whether they are COVID positive or not. The Indonesians are not the first to develop such a breath test with SpiroNose from Health Company Breathomix based in the Netherlands being developed and being tested to speed up COVID testing of subjects on a wider scale.

The Indonesian product, GeNose was tested in May 2020 and was ready for distribution in December 2020 following a clinical trial in a Yogyakarta hospital. It is different from the swab tests and rapid result blood tests that have become the norm as a non-invasive method of testing. Test subjects have reported that it is a much simpler process of getting tested and it does not hurt at all unlike some reposted incidents with rapid antigen blood tests.

The product retails for nearly USD 5,000 or over Rs 3.7 lakh. It comes with a memory chip that records all positive PCR swab test results. The company’s innovation team says that the product replicates the work done by a human nose or a sniffer dog to recognise smell but in the case of the GeNose, it detects the COVID-19 virus. If a subject tests positive in the breath test, they must undergo a PCR test for confirmation and adhere to the medical norms that follow.

Several medical professionals have called out the inadequate testing and clinical trials to rush the product into the final stage of distribution while others recognize it as a much-needed early warning system, which may not be perfect but better than the existing trend of getting tested in the country. Is this product too localised for Indonesia or can this be used in India as well? Let us know about your thoughts in the comments below!

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