Essex scientists develop covid screening tool

By Teo Coroiu

University of Essex scientists have created a rapid screening tool for covid-19 which can recognise people with coronavirus just by the sound of their cough.

Their research, published in the IEEE Transactions on Service Computing, opens up the prospect for quicker, cheaper and less invasive preliminary testing for the virus.

What makes this new tool to be more efficient than the other studies or inventions is given by the fact that it proved a highly and accurate number of infections.

There were more than 8,000 clinically validated samples that have been tested in laboratories.

The DeepCough3D screening tool was used in hospitals like Spain and Mexico since April last year, the tool proved to be 98% correct in identifying the positive or negative cases.

Lead researcher Javier Andreu-Perez, of the Smart Health Technologies Group at the Centre for Computational Intelligence, said:

”We are delighted with the promising results of this novel screening tool, which could prove a real game-changer and essential addition to our arsenal of tools to combat the pandemic as it is far less invasive than most other COVID-19 tests and also offers rapid results, paving the way to point-of-need pre-screening testing solutions.”

This research involved using advanced methods of artificial intelligence and pattern recognition to analyse the sound of symptomatic and asymptomatic coughs which are the result of this type of virus.

Dr. Andreu-Perez added: “This work highlights new evidence that it is worth pursuing intelligent biometric systems, such us from coughing sounds analysis, as a valuable rapid preliminary screening tool for COVID-19.”

The next step in this project will be looking for health collaborations to carry out interventional field studies using the developed technologies and tools, and support for a wider release and certification.