By Nicole Nielsen

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A UT Dallas-developed potential COVID-19 detection breathalyzer test may be available in the United States soon.

Dr. Shalini Prasad is a professor of bioengineering at UT Dallas as well as a research collaborator for Sotech Health.

Dr. Shalini Prasad – UT Dallas (Zoom)

For the last 18 months, the two organizations have been focused on creating the test.

“We have to find solutions for all ends of the pandemic, and we have to do it quick,” Prasad said. “The idea is to screen people quickly.”

The test won’t tell you specifically if you have Covid-19, instead, in just 30 seconds the device is able to tell apart someone who is healthy from someone who is asymptomatic while carrying around a viral respiratory infection.

UT Dallas COVID-19 breathalyzer device (credit: UT Dallas)

It works by detecting molecules that are evidence of an infection in your breath.

If a person tests positive, it’s at that point a Covid-19 PCR test would be needed.

Dr. Prasad says the device is a game changer that can offer Covid-19 testing centers some relief.

“This is a very quick way of screening and figuring out those 500 or 600 people who really need the diagnostic tests, and that helps keep the economy moving along,” Dr. Prasad said.

She says the test is the first of its kind that has been submitted for FDA Emergency Use Authorization in the United States.

It’s also portable and reusable.

Dr. Prasad also says, in just a matter of weeks, the device could be ready to use at airports, sporting events or schools to quickly find carriers of viruses in large crowds.

“The idea is to help people understand, ‘am I sick or am I not sick,’” Dr. Prasad said.

Nicole Nielsen