Ask 2: Why can’t breathalyzers be used to perform COVID-19 tests if virus is spread through oral fluid droplets?

At KPRC 2, we’re dedicated to keeping Houstonians informed. As part of our Ask 2 series, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston.

Question: If talking, coughing, etc. spreads COVID-19, why can’t I be tested with a breathalyzer instead of jamming a giant swab up my nose?

Answer: COVID-19 tests are performed by obtaining a specimen such as mucus or saliva.

According to MD Anderson, a nasal swab test collects a sample of secretions to be analyzed for coronavirus' genetic material.

A breathalyzer does not collect samples of cells and fluids rather it absorbs a puff of air exhaled from the lungs to detect blood alcohol content.

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