Vol.41  「A new era of digital health: detects Covid-19 from the cough sounds」

Last Updated 13 May 2022. Cellspect Co., Ltd.

On April 12th, Pfizer, through its subsidiary, acquired Australian digital health company ResApp Health for US$74.3 million. The company focuses on developing mobile applications for diagnosing respiratory diseases, using machine learning algorithms to detect the presence of COVID-19 from the cough sounds.


ResApp Health is currently conducting three clinical trials, and recently announced their promising clinical trial data of its COVID-19 Test App. The clinical trial enrolled 741 subjects in India and the United States, including 446 patients with COVID-19. As long as the user coughs to the microphone five times, the App can perform machine learning analysis on the coughing sounds to screen whether the user has COVID-19. The clinical data have shown sensitivity (true positive rate) of 92% and specificity (true negative rate) of 99%.


The instant screening test of ResApp uses cough sounds to indicate the presence of infection, similar to the use of a doctor's stethoscope. However, ResApp picks up 'significantly more information than the sounds picked up by a stethoscope as well as removing the need for human interpretation.' By using a large dataset of clinically-labelled non-COVID-19 cough samples, including coughs from patients with non-COVID-19 lower respiratory tract infections, ResApp will be able to ensure that any COVID-19 screening test developed accurately identifies COVID-19 and not other respiratory diseases.


One thing to note is that the accuracy of the test decreases if the patient is asymptomatic. According to the CEO of Resapp, if the patient is really asymptomatic, the accuracy rate drops to 50-60 percent.


The App can also improve the security of the test and the accuracy of the test report through biometric identification (such as face recognition and fingerprint recognition). In the future, it will be applied to fields that require frequent COVID testing, such as tourism, entertainment venues, medical staff, student screening, and the elderly care market.


The mobile apps developed by ResApp Health also include ResAppDx and SleepCheck. ResAppDx is a smartphone-based acute respiratory disease diagnostic test for use in telehealth, emergency department and primary care settings and SleepCheck is a smartphone application which allows consumers to self-assess their risk of sleep apnoea, both products are CE Marked in Europe and TGA approved in Australia.


Because of COVID-19 pandemic, the digital health nowadays is thriving, ushering in a whole new era. Various App detections are not only fast and accurate, but also greatly reduce human errors. It not only saves manpower, but also overcomes the barriers of distance, reaching milestones that traditional medicine can hardly believe. And this is just the beginning, the future of digital health is still limitless and exciting.


  1. April 12, 2022 “Pfizer Australia proposes acquisition of ResApp Health”. Medical Device Network

  2. Rachel Arthur, April 14, 2022. “Pfizer set to acquire COVID-19 smartphone detection app for $100m”. BioPharma-reporter.

  3. Louisa Rebgetz, April 12, 2022. “Pfizer offers $100m to buy Brisbane company behind smartphone app that diagnoses COVID-19” ABC NET News

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