Scientists have developed a groundbreaking Covid diagnosis test using X-rays that are able to give a result within minutes and are 98 per cent accurate.
Experts at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) pioneered the Artificial Intelligence programme to help healthcare staff during times ‘when PCR tests are not readily available’.
The programme is able to detect the virus faster than a PCR test – which typically takes around two hours to return a result.
X-ray technology is used to compare the scans to a database of close to 3,000 images belonging to patients suffering with Covid, healthy individuals and patients with viral pneumonia.
An AI process then uses an algorithm to analyse visual imagery and make a diagnosis. The technique was found to be 98 per cent accurate.
It is hoped that this technology could be used to aid medical staff in Accident and Emergency departments across the UK.
Professor Naeem Ramzan, Director of the Affective and Human Computing for SMART Environments Research Centre at UWS, led the three-person team behind the project, which also involved Gabriel Okolo and Dr Stamos Katsigiannis.
He 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.
‘However, it can still play an important role in curtailing the viruses spread especially when PCR tests are not readily available.
‘It could prove to be crucial, and potentially life-saving, when diagnosing severe cases of the virus, helping determine what treatment may be required.’
Professor Milan Radosavljevic, Vice-Principal of Research, Innovation and Engagement at UWS, added: ‘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.’