COVID PCR tests could be replaced with X-rays that are almost 100 per cent accurate and can give results within minutes.
Scientists at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) have pioneered the groundbreaking Artificial Intelligence (AI) programme which is able to detect the virus faster than a PCR test.
PCR tests could be replaced with X-rays
A PCR test typically takes around two hours to return a result.
The process uses X-ray technology to compare the scans to a database of close to 3,000 images belonging to patients with Covid-19, healthy people and others with viral pneumonia.
An AI process then uses an algorithm to analyse visual imagery and make a diagnosis.
In testing, this technique was found to be 98 per cent accurate.
It is hoped that this technology could be used to help aid Accident and Emergency departments, especially in countries where 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 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.”
It can be used where PCR tests are not availableCredit: AFP