New research has revealed a test using artificial intelligence (AI) that could identify whether a person has coronavirus within one hour.
A team from the University of Oxford, which developed the Curial AI technology, says it can rapidly screen people arriving at hospitals for the virus and accurately predict whether they are infected.
Virus testing currently consists of an invasive nose and throat swab, with results having a turnaround time of between 12 and 48 hours.
The researchers have tested the AI tool on data from 115,000 visits to A&E at Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) in a study running since March.
The tech assesses data gathered from patients within the first hour of arriving at a hospital to determine the chance of a patient testing positive for Covid-19. The new tool can supposedly deliver near-real-time predictions for a patient’s Covid-19 status.
Study lead, Dr Andrew Soltan, commented: “Until we have confirmation that patients are negative, we must take additional precautions for patients with coronavirus symptoms, which are very common.
“The Curial AI is optimised to quickly give negative results with high confidence, safely excluding Covid-19 at the front door and maintaining flow through the hospital.
“When we tested the Curial AI on data for all patients coming to OUH’s emergency departments in the last week of April and the first week of May, it correctly predicted patients’ Covid status more than 90% of the time.”
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He added that the researchers now hope to carry out real-world trials of the technology.
“The next steps are to deploy our AI in to the clinical workflow and assess its role in practice,” he said.
“A strength of our AI is that it fits within the existing clinical care pathway and works with existing lab equipment. This means scaling it up may be relatively fast and cheap.
“I hope that our AI may help keep patients and staff safer while waiting for results of the swab test.”