Pathology at Saint Peter's Hospital

Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has started trials for a new test which could tell if a person has coronavirus in as little as 10 minutes.

The innovative new test, which has been developed by ANCON Medical, would require the patient to breathe into a mouthpiece for one minute so that a sample of the chemicals in their breath can be collected.

These chemicals, known as volatile organic compounds (VOGs) are then analysed by a supercomputer and compared to the VOGs found in the breath of infected patients. A swab test is also done to provide a cheek sample.

The current method for testing for Covid-19 involves a swab test, after which, people have to self-isolate for up to 72 hours whilst they wait to receive their results. If the trial is successful, it could cut the wait down to just 10 minutes and allow people to return to normal life almost immediately if they get a negative result.

If the test is proven to be effective, the new test could be rolled out quickly to testing centres, due to how simple it is to train people on how to perform the test.

Dr Stephen Winchester, Consultant in Medical Virology at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is the Principal Investigator for the trial and oversees the research project at the Trust. Stephen said; “As the coronavirus pandemic develops, it’s clear that our response should be long term and pre-emptive, and advances in research, diagnosis, treatment and technology will be absolutely key to managing future outbreaks and protecting communities.”

“It has the potential to provide an improved experience for patients and aid clinical decision-making. It’s a great example of the fields of technology and medical science working closely together and the Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals’ team are very excited to be part of this potentially ground-breaking project.”