The Daily Telegraph
App can diagnose Covid with simple voice test in less than a minute
AN APP has been developed that can detect coronavirus in a person’s voice and is said to be more accurate than a lateral flow test.
The mobile app takes less than a minute to flag positive cases and is accurate 89 per cent of the time and 83 per cent of the time for negative cases.
In contrast, the accuracy of lateral flow tests varies widely depending on the brand and the nose and throat swabs are less good at picking up infectious people without symptoms.
The app could be used to screen people for the virus before they attend mass events such as concerts.
It could also be deployed in poorer countries, where PCR tests are expensive and often difficult to distribute.
The Dutch researchers say coronavirus usually affects the upper respiratory tract and vocal chords, leading to changes in a person’s voice. The team investigated whether it was possible to detect the novel virus in people’s voices.
When developing it, they used data from the University of Cambridge’s crowdsourcing Covid-19 Sounds App, which contains 893 audio samples from 4,352 participants, 308 of whom had tested positive for the virus. The app is installed on the user’s mobile phone and the participants report basic details about demographics, medical history and smoking status.
They are then asked to record some respiratory sounds which include coughing three times, breathing deeply through their mouth three to five times and reading a short sentence on the screen three times.
The researchers used a voice analysis technique called Mel-spectrogram analysis, which identifies different voice features such as loudness, power and variation over time.
Researcher Wafaa Aljbawi, from the University of Maastricht, said: “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].”