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This new app can identify Covid using your voice – and is ‘more accurate than lateral flow tests’

What a time to be alive

Written by
Faima Bakar

In news that will make you marvel at science, you might soon be able to download an app on your phone that detects coronavirus – with scientists claiming it is more accurate than a lateral flow test.

Scientists at Maastricht University in the Netherlands are working on AI technology that could be a breakthrough in tackling the Covid pandemic. Since coronavirus is a respiratory condition affecting the upper respiratory tract and vocal cords, the app works by detecting changes in a person’s voice after recording basic information about demographics, medical history and smoking status.

The AI app, yet to be peer-reviewed, was found to be 89 percent accurate when identifying positive cases, compared to lateral flow tests which can vary in accuracy depending on the model and how they’re used.

It’s appreciated that the sample size is relatively small, with 4,352 healthy and infected participants. Out of the 308 people who were found to have a positive case, respondents had engaged with the app extensively, by coughing, breathing and reading sentences out loud for the device to register their voices and diagnose them.

‘These promising results suggest that simple voice recordings and fine-tuned AI algorithms can potentially achieve high precision in determining which patients have Covid-19 infection,’ said Wafaa Aljbawi, a researcher at the Institute of Data Science, Maastricht University, in a statement. ‘They could be used, for example, at the entry points for large gatherings, enabling rapid screening of the population.’

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