The University of Miami unveiled their role in a pilot program aimed at testing student’s breath and producing COVID test results within minutes.
UM agreed to be the first school to take part in a pilot program with an Israeli-produced COVID-19 Breath Analyzer that is still awaiting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“It’s as simple as a kazoo - you just blow into it. And if it works, it will be a game changer,” said Roy E. Weiss, chair of the Miller School of Medicine Department of Medicine and chief medical officer for COVID-19. “It would allow us to test at a fraction of the cost and time of our current nasal swab test and as frequently and wherever necessary.”
Students in upper grade levels living on campus who are being tested through nasal swab and saliva methods were asked if they want to take part in the new testing methods starting this week.
The test is similar to the one that police give for drivers they believe to be impaired.
“What we are trying to do is help validate the test by comparing it to the gold standard for COVID-19 detection, which remains polymerase chain reaction via nasal swabs or saliva,” said Erin Kobetz, vice provost for research and scholarship. “It’s too soon to draw any conclusions about the effectiveness of the breath test, but we are hopeful.”
UM aims to provide about 1,000 test results to developers, who are gathering data on testing. University administrators are interested to see whether the breath analyzer will gain emergency use authorization, a way the FDA has fast tracked many treatments to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The university is also exploring the possibility of integrating the saliva test into its mandatory testing regimine.
“We are trying to determine whether a saliva-based test will enhance our capacity to screen at greater frequency or in larger numbers,” Kobetz added.