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Screening for SARS-CoV-2 faster with AI than lateral-flow tests

Researchers at the University of Oxford are seeking NHSX funding for an artificial intelligence (AI) SARS-CoV-2 screening test.

Results of a three-month evaluation study at John Radcliffe Hospital found the CURIAL-Rapide test could screen accident and emergency department (A&E) patients at the bedside within 10 minutes, without needing a laboratory. Results were available 45 minutes after patients arrived at A&E – 26% faster than with lateral-flow tests (LFTs). When compared against polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, the AI test was more likely to identify COVID patients than LFTs and corrected ruled out the infection 99.7% of the time.

Collaborating with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Portsmouth University Hospitals NHS Trust, and Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the study found CURIAL-Rapide performed consistently across 72,000 admissions to five UK hospitals.

Another AI model named CURIAL-Lab, which uses routine blood tests performed in a laboratory alongside vital signs, was at least as effective as CURIAL-Rapide when tested at hospitals. CURIAL-Lab could be deployed rapidly at-scale without additional costs because the data required are collected within one hour as part of standard care.

The research team has applied for funding from the NHSX AI Health and Social Care Award to drive a national rollout and widescale decision-support trials.

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