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X-rays to Replace PCR Tests? Scientists in Scotland Develop New Covid Diagnosis That's 98% Accurate

The scientists have claimed that the programme is able to detect the virus faster than a PCR test as the latter typically takes around two hours to return a result.
The scientists have claimed that the programme is able to detect the virus faster than a PCR test as the latter typically takes around two hours to return a result. (PTI)

The scientists have claimed that the programme is able to detect the virus faster than a PCR test as the latter typically takes around two hours to return a result. The scientists have claimed that the programme is able to detect the virus faster than a PCR test as the latter typically takes around two hours to return a result. (PTI)

Researchers developed the AI programme to assist healthcare staff when "when PCR tests are not readily available".

Scientists in Scotland have developed a groundbreaking Artificial Intelligence-enabled Covid diagnosis test using X-rays that are able to give 98 percent accurate results in no time.

Researchers at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) developed the AI programme to assist healthcare staff when “when PCR tests are not readily available”.

Professor Naeem Ramzan, Director of the Affective and Human Computing for SMART Environments Research Centre at UWS, led the three-person team behind the pioneering project. Besides Ramzan, it also involved Gabriel Okolo and Dr Stamos Katsigiannis.

The scientists have claimed that the programme is able to detect the virus faster than a PCR test as the latter typically takes around two hours to return a result.

How Does it Work

The technique, which was found to be 98 per cent accurate, will use X-ray technology to compare the scans to a database of close to 3,000 images belonging to Covid patients, healthy individuals and patients with viral pneumonia. Following this, an AI process then uses an algorithm to analyse visual imagery and make a diagnosis.

Ramzan said, “There has long been a need for a quick and reliable tool that can detect Covid-19, and this has become even more true with the upswing of the Omicron variant. Several countries are unable to carry out large numbers of covid tests because of limited diagnosis tools, but this technique utilises easily accessible technology to quickly detect the virus.”

Covid-19 symptoms are not visible in x-rays during the early stages of infection, so it is important to note that the technology cannot fully replace PCR tests, the lead scientist added.

“However, it can still play an important role in curtailing the viruses spread especially when PCR tests are not readily available,” he said, adding that it could prove to be crucial, and potentially life-saving, when diagnosing severe cases of the virus, helping determine what treatment may be required.

Meanwhile, Professor Milan Radosavljevic, Vice-Principal of Research, Innovation and Engagement at UWS, said, “This is potentially game-changing research. It’s another example of the purposeful, impactful work that has gone on at UWS throughout the pandemic, making a genuine difference in the fight against Covid-19. I am incredibly proud of the drive and innovation demonstrated by our internationally renowned academics, as they strive to find solutions to urgent global problems.”

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first published:January 20, 2022, 10:34 IST