COVID-19 Testing Initiative

To stop the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to screen a lot of people – maybe in the tens or hundreds of millions. Most COVID-19 carriers don’t develop symptoms severe enough to prompt medical help, and this undiagnosed population acts as active spreaders, contributing to much faster, covert spread.

Current wet lab-based tests can’t meet this need. They are expensive, scarce, and slow. And they pose a risk as they require an in-person visit, exposing more members of the public and healthcare personnel; a risk that would be much amplified by large-scale testing.

There’s an urgent need for a cheap, scalable, and remote test. And you can help! By taking this survey, you’ll contribute to building the world’s biggest database of coughs from COVID-19 patients and controls; that can be used for building algorithms for detecting it – through a simple voice recording.

Using cough analysis to assess respiratory disease

The respiratory system is key for humans to produce voice – when air from the lungs passes through and is shaped by the airways, the mouth and nasal cavities. When the respiratory system is affected by a disease it can change the sound of you breathing, coughing, and the vocal quality. Specific cough characteristics have already been shown in respiratory diseases such as asthma, pneumonia, whooping cough – using advanced analysis.

COVID-19 also affects the respiratory system – and in ways that are different from these other diseases. Voice might thus be a cheap, scalable and remote method for assessing infection accurately. And with unlimited capacity for testing.

To analyse the fine patterns of voice and coughs we train advanced algorithms. To make them better, we need a lot of data. This makes the information cough and voice provide more accurate and useful.