Using artificial intelligence to improve COVID-19 rapid diagnostic test result interpretation

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Mar 23;118(12):e2019893118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2019893118.


Serological rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are widely used across pathologies, often providing users a simple, binary result (positive or negative) in as little as 5 to 20 min. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, new RDTs for identifying SARS-CoV-2 have rapidly proliferated. However, these seemingly easy-to-read tests can be highly subjective, and interpretations of the visible “bands” of color that appear (or not) in a test window may vary between users, test models, and brands. We developed and evaluated the accuracy/performance of a smartphone application (xRCovid) that uses machine learning to classify SARS-CoV-2 serological RDT results and reduce reading ambiguities. Across 11 COVID-19 RDT models, the app yielded 99.3% precision compared to reading by eye. Using the app replaces the uncertainty from visual RDT interpretation with a smaller uncertainty of the image classifier, thereby increasing confidence of clinicians and laboratory staff when using RDTs, and creating opportunities for patient self-testing.

PMID:33674422 | DOI:10.1073/pnas.2019893118

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