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Lisa Jarvis

A Covid Breath Test Will Make It Easier to Screen Crowds

The first tool of its kind won’t be an instant game-changer, but the technology could one day be used to prevent superspreading at basketball games and other big events.

Breath tests could quickly screen them all. 

Breath tests could quickly screen them all. 

Photographer: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Turner

Texas-based InspectIR Systems’ breath test for Covid-19 — the first such test to get emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration — will probably have limited use at first. But it is nevertheless an important step toward expanding the toolkit available to prevent outbreaks of Covid and any future viruses at big sports and entertainment events and other places where hundreds of people gather.

The technology is beautifully simple. A patient exhales into a cardboard straw connected to a suitcase-sized device, which analyzes the sample in less than three minutes.