Oxford’s rapid test is able to screen for coronavirus at A&E

SCIENTISTS from Oxford University have developed an artificial intelligence test that can rapidly screen for Covid-19 in patients arriving in emergency departments.

The test assesses data routinely collected during the first hour in emergency departments, such as blood tests and vital signs, to determine the chance of a patient testing positive for coronavirus.

The AI test was trialled by applying it to all patients presenting to A&E at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital and Banbury’s Horton General and admitted between April 20 and May 6.

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These preliminary results showed it correctly predicted the Covid-19 status of patients 92.3 per cent of the time, across the 3,326 patients coming to A&E in the two week period.

Currently, testing for Covid-19 is by a molecular analysis of a nose and throat swab, which typically has a turnaround time of 12 to 48 hours and requires specialist equipment and staff.

Dr Andrew Soltan, who led the team, said: “A strength of our AI is that it fits within the existing clinical care pathway and works with existing lab equipment. This means scaling it up may be relatively fast and cheap.”

Find out more about the study here.