A Dutch inventor has come up with what he hopes is a less painful, potentially faster and easier method for testing coronavirus infections. Peter van Wees asks participants to scream or sing inside an airlocked cabin, instead of taking unpleasant nasal swab tests for detecting SARS-CoV-2.
"If you have coronavirus and are infectious and yelling and screaming you are spreading tens of thousands of particles which contain coronavirus," Van Wees, a serial entrepreneur, told Reuters.
To try his invention on people, Van Wees has set up his booth next to a COVID testing centre near the outskirts of Amsterdam. He sees the machine as a potentially useful screening tool at concerts, airports, schools or offices.
An industrial air purifier collects all the particles emitted, which are then analysed for coronavirus. The virus is identified by its size using a nanometre-scale sizing device and the process takes about three minutes.
Although lots of small particles from the person's clothes and breath are detected, Van Wees says that an infection shows up as a cluster around the size of the coronavirus.
Geert Westerhuis, a spokesman of the Netherlands' National Institute for Health, said it is looking at an array of testing strategies and would welcome a fast, functioning test that was highly accurate. But "how this apparatus works -- we can't estimate it because we know too little about it," Westerhuis added.
Van Wees is working with a private company to gather evidence for his strategy.
(With input from agencies)