COVID-19 pandemic hit the world hard and the only way to get a grip on the deadly virus was to test and contain infected individuals. Over the past year, testing has taken the number one priority in the absence of a cure. But the painful nasal poking didn't make it easy for people to be forthcoming and chose to be tested only when absolutely necessary. What if we told you a less-painful method is coming soon.
Researchers at IISc Bengaluru have been hard at work, trying to develop a tool that will detect COVID-19 with 70-80 percent accuracy. All you will need to do is lend your voice. That's right! The dreaded nasal poking may not be required to detect COVID-19.
Coswara to the rescue
The researchers are calling their innovation Coswara, which stands for corona and sound (swara means sound in Sanskrit). Coswara tool can be used for COVID diagnosis based on respiratory, cough and speech sounds. The collected data is then analysed using signal processing and machine learning techniques.
From what they've found through their research, IISc researchers say Coswara tool can detect COVID infections with 70-80 percent accuracy as compared to the RT-PCR test, which is currently the gold standard for COVID detection.
"So far, the results of the models developed on the Coswara data are seen to provide about 70 to 80 per cent accuracy against the RT-PCR gold standard. For example, the widely used rapid antigen testing (RAT) is about 75 per cent accurate compared to the RT-PCR standard. Given the highly simplistic nature of sound-based testing, the tool has the potential to evolve into effective diagnostic equipment," said Sriram Ganapathy, head of the Coswara project.
Further testing and data collection is going to train the algorithms for better detection with less false positives. After developing the models, the researchers will proceed to seek formal approvals from agencies like ICMR. Once they get around the red tapes, the Coswara tool will be made available to users for free.
The researchers were unable to give the exact timeline on Coswara's availability, but it depends on the government agency's approvals.