Israel-based startup Vocalis Health’s hyper-rapid COVID-19 screening tool, VocalisCheck, achieved an accuracy of 81.2 percent in identifying the infection, based on patients’ voice samples.
According to a statement released by the startup, the tool received the CE mark for using it to screen COVID-19.
The CE mark indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area (EEA). The mark is also found on products sold outside EEA that have been manufactured to EEA standards.
The startup said the clinical study was conducted in collaboration with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai at the NESCO COVID-19 Centre, with more than 2,000 participants.
“Results from an unblinded validation set of 288 participants demonstrated an AUC (area under the curve) of 0.88, which translated into an accuracy of 81.2 percent, sensitivity of 80.3 percent, and specificity of 81.4 percent,” said the statement.
Dr Shady Hassan, Co-Founder and Chief Operating and Medical Officer of Vocalis Health, said polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is an expensive, resource-intensive, and time-consuming approach.
“Instead of misusing PCR testing for screening, utilising 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 a high risk of infection to the appropriate diagnostic test,” said Dr Shady.
VocalisCheck, a software product, can be accessed via smartphones and other devices. According to the startup, people need to just count from 50 to 70 and their voice recording will get transformed into a spectrogram containing 512 features.
The spectogram is compared using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques to screen COVID-19 positive patients. The startup clarified that VocalisCheck is not a diagnostic but pre-screening tool that can deliver a reliable risk score and help screen people, who may need additional diagnostic testing.
Vocalis Health is an AI-based healthtech startup aimed at the development of vocal biomarkers, i.e. deriving health-related information from the analysis of people’s voice recordings. This allows healthcare workers to screen, detect, monitor, and predict health symptoms, conditions, and diseases through a patient’s voice.
The startup said it is currently focused on screening people for COVID-19 and monitoring patients suffering from chronic diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Congestive Heart Failure, and Pulmonary Hypertension.
According to the startup, the screening tool could also accurately assess coronavirus infection in asymptomatic patients.
“We are encouraged by the study’s findings, which further validate VocalisCheck’s ability to screen for COVID-19,” said Vocalis Health CEO Tal Wenderow. “These new results, combined with our recent CE-mark approval, demonstrate our commercial readiness to deploy the VocalisCheck screening tool to help businesses, governments, universities, and others safely return to work, school, healthcare, and leisure, while lightening the burden on health systems.”