© Reuters. A new rapid COVID-19 test in the Netherlands invites people to shout in a cabin
By Toby Sterling and Esther Verkaik
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – A Dutch inventor has come up with a hopefully faster and easier way to screen for coronavirus infections.
Instead of uncomfortable nasal swab tests, Peter van Wees asks participants to step into an airlock booth and scream or sing. An industrial air purifier collects all the emitted particles, which are then analyzed for the virus.
"When you have coronavirus and you are contagious and you scream and shout, you are spreading tens of thousands of particles that contain coronavirus," Van Wees said.
Van Wees, a serial entrepreneur, has set up its stand next to a coronavirus test center on the outskirts of Amsterdam to try out his invention on people who have just been tested.
"It's always nice to scream when nobody can hear you," said Soraya Assoud, 25, who needed proof of a negative coronavirus test to travel to Spain.
Van Wees says that while many small particles are detected from the person's clothing and breath, infection occurs as a cluster around the size of the coronavirus. The process takes about three minutes.
The virus is identified by its size using a nanometer-scale size measuring device.
He sees the machine as a potentially useful screening tool at concerts, airports, schools or offices.
The Dutch National Institute of Health (RIVM) spokesman, Geert Westerhuis, who is not involved in the project, said he was reviewing a number of testing strategies and would welcome a quick, working test that would be very accurate.
But "how this apparatus works – we cannot estimate it because we know too little about it," he said.
A breath test, which requires the participant to blow in a tube, was approved by health officials in Amsterdam last month, but has not yet been rolled out nationwide due to problems with "false negatives".
Van Wees works with a private company to gather evidence for his strategy.
On her way to Spain, Assoud said the experience in Van Wees' machine was pleasant.
"I think it's a good way to meditate too … it's fun!"
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