Mumbai: BMC to start AI-based voice tests within a week to detect Covid-19 | Mumbai News

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MUMBAI: The BMC will next week onwards start using a voice sampling method to diagnose Covid-19 at one of its jumbo facilities.
“We will use an AI-based voice sampling application in a pilot project covering 1,000 patients, both suspected and confirmed, at our Nesco facility in Goregaon,” said additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani on Saturday.

Voice analysis was used in some European nations, including France and Italy, to detect Covid-19. In fact, a group of students from a Navi Mumbai engineering college recently ‘retuned’ their 2008 voice analytical program to detect Covid-19 among suspected patients.
“We will compare the voice analysis findings with RT-PCR results,” said Kakani. If the pilot shows promise, the BMC plans to use the program in its other hospitals as well. “It is non-invasive and can deliver results quickly,” he added. RT-PCR stands for reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.
While RT-PCR results take an average of 24 hours (from collection of samples to results), BMC’s new tests such as the antigen test gives results within 30 minutes. The rapid antibody blood tests available in the private sector too quickly reveals if the patient has been exposed to the novel coronavirus. However, there has been a lot of debate over the efficiency of these tests.
A doctor, who is associated with the BMC, said that the voice analysis method isn’t very sensitive. “It could lead to a lot of positives,” he said. While BMC officials said the whole voice analysis project was its own initiative, it is learnt that an IIT team is helping out.
The test involves a person speaking into a smart phone or computer with the app. The app, which has been finetuned with voice data of thousands of patients with Covid-19 or other respiratory ailments, will run the patient’s voice reading against its database and detect the condition.
From placing disinfection panels at its offices to using kiosks that allow contactless testing of patients, the BMC has been proactively using innovations in its battle against the novel coronavirus infection. “But rules are stringently followed. Even the voice analysis project is awaiting an ethics committee approval that should come within a couple of days,” said a senior official.
Watch Mumbai: BMC to start AI-based voice tests within a week to detect Covid-19



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