Limitations of the Cough Sound-Based COVID-19 Diagnosis Artificial Intelligence Model and its Future Direction: Longitudinal Observation Study.

Journal of medical Internet research

BACKGROUND: The outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 in 2019 has necessitated the rapid and accurate detection of COVID-19 to manage patients effectively and implement public health measures. Artificial intelligence (AI) models analyzing cough sounds have emerged as promising tools for large-scale screening and early identification of potential cases.OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to investigate the efficacy of using cough sounds as a diagnostic tool for COVID-19, considering the unique acoustic features that differentiate positive and negative cases. We investigated whether an AI model trained on cough sound recordings from specific periods, especially the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, were applicable to the ongoing situation with persistent variants.METHODS: We used cough sound recordings from 3 data sets (Cambridge, Coswara, and Virufy) representing different stages of the pandemic and variants. Our AI model was trained using the Cambridge data set with subsequent evaluation against all data sets. The performance was analyzed based on the area under the receiver operating curve (AUC) across different data measurement periods and COVID-19 variants.RESULTS: The AI model demonstrated a high AUC when tested with the Cambridge data set, indicative of its initial effectiveness. However, the performance varied significantly with other data sets, particularly in detecting later variants such as Delta and Omicron, with a marked decline in AUC observed for the latter. These results highlight the challenges in maintaining the efficacy of AI models against the backdrop of an evolving virus.CONCLUSIONS: While AI models analyzing cough sounds offer a promising noninvasive and rapid screening method for COVID-19, their effectiveness is challenged by the emergence of new virus variants. Ongoing research and adaptations in AI methodologies are crucial to address these limitations. The adaptability of AI models to evolve with the virus underscores their potential as a foundational technology for not only the current pandemic but also future outbreaks, contributing to a more agile and resilient global health infrastructure.

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Journal of medical Internet research
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