AI Voice Analysis Achieves More than 80% Accuracy in Covid-19 detection, Receiving CE Mark
Last Updated 26 February, 2021. Cellspect Co., Ltd.
Israeli startup Vocalis Health, the company pioneering artificial intelligence (AI)-based voice biomarkers in healthcare, announced on 17 Feb that its COVID-19 screening tool, VocalisCheck, has received a CE mark, becoming the first device to receive CE mark approval for the medical use of screening for COVID-19.
Vocalis conducted a clinical study in collaboration with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) at their NESCO COVID-19 Center to validate Vocalis Health's COVID-19 screening tool. The study included over 2,000 participants who spoke numerous languages including English, Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati. Results from an unblinded validation set of 288 participants demonstrated an AUC (area under the curve) of 0.88, which translated to accuracy of 81.2%, sensitivity of 80.3% and specificity of 81.4%. 
VocalisCheck is a software-only product that can be accessed using smartphones or other devices. The diagnostic test, which runs on a smartphone or computer, asks the user to count from 50 to 70. The audio is translated into a visual representation of their voice, a spectrogram, made up of 512 features vocal biomarkers. VocalisCheck applies artificial intelligence machine learning/deep learning techniques to compare the spectrogram to a composite image from the voice of Covid-19-positive subjects in clinical trials. In less than a minute, VocalisCheck would render a verdict, which would then be validated or disproven by a subsequent swab test. Vocalis has been gathering public voice samples since April and started coordinating with the Israeli Ministry of Defense to get spectrograms of those who definitely had been infected. [1, 2]
Vocalis said that the novel coronavirus will affect the human body in many ways, from taste and smell to muscle pain, and even small changes in sound and therefore, AI can be used to analyze the subtle differences. However, Vocalis noted that VocalisCheck is not a diagnostic tool but is made to be used as a screening tool for offering a reliable risk score to support people who may need additional diagnostic testing. It can help health systems to allocate diagnostic resources in an efficient manner. [1, 2]
"PCR testing is being used to screen for COVID-19, which is an extremely expensive, resource-intensive and time-consuming approach," said Dr. Shady Hassan, Co-Founder and Medical Officer of Vocalis Health. "Instead of misusing PCR testing for screening, utilizing a highly scalable screening tool like VocalisCheck can fill a significant gap in the current approach to COVID screening, with the ability to effectively funnel those with high risk of infection to the appropriate diagnostic test."
“We’re a platform and we have several stages of development focused on respiratory illness, but also on other illnesses,” Hassan added. “We have a product to detect shortness of breath in people with lung disease. We are developing tests for pulmonary hypertension, and for mental health like depression and for alcohol intoxication. We are integrating the COVID-19 data with our data, after validating and standardizing, for other diseases. More data makes more accurate tests.” 
Vocalis isn’t the only company developing this kind of AI-powered coronavirus diagnostic. Fellow Israeli tech firm Voca.ai has also been working on the idea, partnering with Carnegie Mellon University to build a database of voices for assessing COVID-19 infection. That test analyzes the probability of infection by examining the sound of someone’s voice and their cough, however there is no clear results yet. Vocalis clearly took a successful step and imply the potential application of AI-based tool to help businesses, governments, universities and others safely return to work, school, healthcare and leisure while lightening the burden on health systems. 
17 Feb 2021. “Vocalis Health's COVID-19 Screening Tool Successfully Validated in Large Clinical Study” Vocalis Health News Release.
ERIC HAL SCHWARTZ. 18 Feb 2021. “Vocalis Health’s COVID-19 Voice Test Achieves More than 80% Accuracy in Clinical Study” voicebot.ai News
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