Electric Nose Can 'Sniff Out' COVID in 80 Seconds

Scientists have developed an exciting new technology to aid in the fight against COVID-19.

The 3D-printed nose can "sniff out" the coronavirus in only 80 seconds by detected chemicals in infected individuals, which may open the door for large-scale global testing. Scientists say that the technology could be implemented at airports, offices, factories, and even sports venues.

"The e-nose generates a pattern in every odor—it characterizes the smell of COVID-19," said project leader Noam Sobel.

Sobel emphasized that rapid diagnosis is the only way to curb the spread of the pandemic, as it will allow people to resume traveling, working, school, and mass gatherings.

The device, called Pen3, is able to identify VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in the inner nasal passage rather than the breath.

By experimenting on 503 people—27 of whom were later diagnosed with COVID-19—it was discovered that Pen3 is up to 94% accurate.

"Every disease has an odor because they change metabolic processes. Metabolites have a smell," Sobel said. "When a compound interacts with the sensors, this results in an oxygen exchange that leads to a change in electrical conductivity."

Although dogs can pick up the scent, the scale of the crisis makes them an unrealistic tool, meaning that Pen3 may hold to the key to the pandemic's end.

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