Infectious Disease

Might an alcohol take a look at show SARS-CoV-2 in youngsters?

December 15, 2020

2 min read

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Disclosure:
Odom John does not report any relevant financial information. In the study you will find all relevant financial information from all other authors.

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The researchers showed how an alcohol test can be developed to detect SARS-CoV-2 infection in children.

In a pilot study, the researchers analyzed the breath composition of patients with (n = 11) and without (n = 15) SARS-CoV-2 infection at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia and discovered six volatile organic compounds that are more common in infected patients.

Audrey R. Odom John

According to Audrey R. Odom John, MD, PhD, Head of the Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases of the hospital and colleagues: “These biomarkers showed 100% sensitivity and 66.6% specificity.”

“Our work offers a solid framework on which a future alcohol test for SARS-CoV-2 infections in children can be built,” they write in the study, which was published on the preprint server medRxiv.

Healio spoke to Odom John, an editorial board member on infectious diseases in children, about the work.

Question: What practical clinical benefit could a SARS-CoV-2 breathalyzer have and will this use disappear once children have access to a vaccine?

Reply: We do not yet know whether the current generation of vaccines will be safe and effective in children. More importantly, we don’t yet know whether the vaccines will prevent asymptomatic infection or asymptomatic transmission. While I am very hopeful that SARS-CoV-2 can be vaccinated, we probably still need to test for infections, just like we do with influenza. This may be even more important for low- and middle-income countries where vaccination efforts may be slower.

Q: What exactly does the test recognize?

A: We discover six different compounds in the breath of children with SARS-CoV-2.

Q: Could the breath test also be used to detect asymptomatic infection in adults?

A: We are excited to see whether our breath test will be useful in asymptomatic or symptomatic adults, and we are currently conducting studies to see if it does.

Q: A similar test for malaria has also shown promising results . Where is this test in development?

A: We recently completed a validation study on our malaria breathalyzer. The results look very promising – more to come soon!

Q: What else does a breathalyzer need? Flu?

A: There are so many pediatric infectious and non-infectious diseases that can easily be diagnosed with one simple, quick, and easy test! We have many projects in the pipeline but it will be very important to understand if our SARS-CoV-2 test is specific for a particular respiratory virus compared to other respiratory viruses like influenza.

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