An algorithm developed in the US has correctly identified people with Covid-19 only by the sound of their coughs.
In tests, it achieved a 98.5% success rate among people who had received an official positive coronavirus test result, rising to 100% in those who had no other symptoms.
The researchers would need regulatory approval to develop it into an app.
They said the crucial difference in the sound of an asymptomatic-Covid-patient cough could not be heard by human ears.
The artificial-intelligence (AI) algorithm was built at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) lab.
MIT scientist Brian Subirana, who co-authored the paper, published in the IEEE Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology, said: “The way you produce sound changes when you have Covid, even if you’re asymptomatic.”
“Practical use cases could be for daily screening of students, workers and public, as schools, jobs, and transport reopen, or for pool testing to quickly alert of outbreaks in groups,” the report says.
Several organisations, including Cambridge University, Carnegie Mellon University and UK health start-up Novoic, have been working on similar projects.
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