Coronavirus: The Quest for Solutions – Sniffing Out Covid-19



Olfaction expert Prof. Noam Sobel takes us through his attempts to “train” an electronic nose to identify Covid. This may be possible because “every disease has an odor,” he says. “Diseases change metabolic processes, and metabolites have a smell.”

Worldwide, any lab with an e-nose is trying to identify Covid – however, they are testing samples in the lab, says Prof. Sobel, who instead took the test to the field. His team painstakingly adapted their device, got safety assurance from the Ministry of Health, and 3D-printed devices (used once, on each participant) at the Institute.

Then, in partnership with Magen David Adam (Israel’s Red Cross), the Sobel team set up tents at the organization’s Covid testing site to take e-nose samples from everyone coming for a test. The Sobel lab will compare their findings with those of MDA, and use the info to teach their e-nose to smell coronavirus.

Prof. Sobel describes the effort as “a shot in the dark.” It has a small chance of working, but if it does work, it could revolutionize Covid testing, producing a diagnosis in about 80 seconds.