New device in Thailand tests for Covid-19 in armpit sweat

WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:

  • Scientists in Thailand found a new way of detecting the coronavirus in people — by checking their armpit sweat.
  • This week, the researchers tested the sweat-based mobile virus detector on vendors at a Bangkok food market.
  • Though still in the development stage, the device looks promising as sample collection takes 15 minutes and the results are ready in 30 seconds.

Thai scientists say sweat from armpits may contain subtle signs of coronavirus infection.

Researchers in Thailand are developing a mobile virus detector that can identify Covid-19 infection from armpit sweat. They road-tested it on vendors at a Bangkok food market this week.

“From the samples, we found that people infected with Covid-19 secrete very distinct chemicals,” said Chadin Kulsing from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University.

“We used this finding to develop a device to detect the specific odors produced by certain bacteria in the sweat of Covid-19 patients,” he added.

The test was 95 percent accurate, according to Chadin, who hopes it might be made available as an affordable alternative to more expensive swab tests that require lab processing.

The detector, however, is still in the development stage, and the study behind it is yet to be peer-reviewed nor published.

Local cientists say the virus detector is similar to a device used to detect toxic chemicals in the environment.

The process is also simpler. Subjects place a cotton swab under their arms for 15 minutes, then the swab is placed in a glass vial and sterilized with UV rays.

“The technician then draws an appropriate amount of the sample using a suction hose, and pressurizes it into the analyzer to check the results,” Chadin said.

The sample collection only takes 15 minutes and the results are ready in 30 seconds. The Bangkok market vendors are happy with the sweat test, giving it a thumbs-up. They said it was much more pleasant than nostril swab tests.

“This sweat test is more convenient because I get to work while waiting for the results,” a 43-year-old watermelon vendor told AFP. “With the PCR test, I’d have to be at a testing center, sit and wait for the result and it just wastes my time.”

Currently, Thailand is battling its third and worst Covid wave. On Thursday, it reported 16,000 new cases, taking the total since the start of the pandemic to nearly 1.34 million. The Southeast Asian nation has a population of nearly 69.8 million people.

Source: France 24

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