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There is a specific signature of COVID-19 infections in the exhaled air of patients.

There is a specific signature of COVID infections in expired air in intubated and ventilated patients, referred to as "severe COVID patients". Explanations from CEA-Joliot and CEA-List.

Published on 10 December 2020

A study conducted by the research teams from the Foch Hospital and the Raymond-Poincaré AP-HP Hospital, in association with the teams from CEA-Joliot and CEA-List, Inserm, the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and the University of Paris-Saclay, unveils the first results of a COVID-19 signature in exhaled air.
From the end of March to the end of June 2020, the team analyzed the exhaled air of nearly 40 patients every morning using a mass spectrometer. This non-invasive procedure makes it possible to analyze the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) of a patient placed on respiratory assistance and to obtain rapid results in less than two minutes. The VOCs measured in patients with COVID-19 were compared with those of patients without COVID infection, known as "control patients".
Data from both cohorts revealed that there was a signature of COVID-19 and that certain VOCs were characteristic of COVID-19 infection. The reliability of detection of COVID-19 in these patients was 93%.
The results of this study now open up prospects for new testing procedures, in parallel with PCR tests, to detect COVID-19 disease. This non-invasive test can provide results very quickly and reliably.

Frédéric Joliot Institute for Life Sciences - CEA Paris-Saclay
Foch Hospital, Suresnes
​Raymond Poincaré Hospital, Garches

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