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[CONTINUOUS COUGHING]
SPEAKER: Asymptomatic people who are infected with COVID-19
exhibit, by definition, "no discernible physical symptoms
of the disease."
But it seems those who are asymptomatic may not
be entirely free of changes wrought by the virus.
The differences between a cough of an asymptomatic patient
and a healthy individual are not decipherable to the human ear,
but it turns out that they can be picked up
by artificial intelligence.
For example, here is a cough of a healthy individual.
[RAPID COUGHS]
And now here is a cough of an asymptomatic person
with COVID-19
[COUGHING WITH BREATHS IN BETWEEN]
To make things even more challenging,
listen to a person who has symptoms and is
COVID-19 positive.
[CHOKING SHORT COUGHS]
It's very hard, frankly, almost impossible,
for a person to distinguish these three
coughs, even after you've listened
to them multiple times.
But a team of MIT researchers report
they have developed an AI model that
can distinguish asymptomatic people with COVID-19
from healthy individuals without the disease
through forced-cough recordings.
To develop their model, the researchers
used tens of thousands of samples
of coughs submitted by people voluntarily through web
browsers and devices, such as cell phones and laptops.
When they fed the model new cough recordings,
it accurately identified 98.5% of coughs
from people who were confirmed to have COVID-19, including
100% of coughs from the asymptomatic,
who reported they did not have symptoms
but had tested positive for the virus.
When the AI model is fed the cough
of a COVID asymptomatic person,
[COUGHING WITH BREATHS IN BETWEEN]
They found it was able to pick up
patterns in the four biomarkers-- vocal-cord
strength, sentiment, lung and respiratory
performance, and muscular degradation that
are specific to COVID-19.
When the model is fed the cough of a COVID-positive individual
who is exhibiting symptoms--
[CHOKING SHORT COUGHS]
--it is actually harder for artificial intelligence
to discriminate.
The researchers think it is because there
are many conditions that create symptoms
such as the flu or asthma, and therefore, the results
are confounded.
For this reason, they stress that their AI model is not
meant to diagnose symptomatic people
or determine whether their symptoms are due to COVID-19
or other conditions.
The tool's strength lies in its ability
to discern asymptomatic coughs from healthy ones.
The team is now working on incorporating the model
into a user-friendly app, which, if FDA approved and adopted
on a large scale, could potentially
be a free, convenient, non-invasive prescreening tool
to identify people who are likely to be
asymptomatic for COVID-19.
A user could log in daily, cough into their phone,
and instantly get information on whether they might be infected,
and therefore, should confirm with a formal test.
Thanks for listening.
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