Covid breakthrough: UK develops ‘game-changing’ tech to diagnose virus quicker than PCR

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The Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology can accurately pick up a case of the virus in just minutes. It was developed by researchers from the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and the process also involves X-ray technology. The researchers compared X-ray scans to a database of around 3,000 images that belonged to healthy people as well as Covid and viral pneumonia patients.

The technology then goes through an AI process.

It uses an algorithm typically used to analyse visual imagery to diagnose subjects.

Experts claim this technique detected the virus 98 percent accuracy.

Project leader Prof Naeem Ramzan, said: “There has long been a need for a quick and reliable tool that can detect COVID-19, and this has become even more true with the upswing of the Omicron variant.”

“COVID-19 symptoms are not visible in X-rays during the early stages of infection, so it is important to note that the technology cannot fully replace PCR tests.

“It could prove to be crucial, and potentially life-saving.”

Prof Milan Radosavljevic, also from UWS, said that this new technology could be “game-changing”.

He said: “It’s another example of the purposeful, impactful work that has gone on at UWS throughout the pandemic, making a genuine difference in the fight against COVID-19.”

Now, it is hoped that the technology reduce the strain on health systems.

This is especially the case in places where PCR tests are hard to get hold of.

PCR tests are mostly meant for people who are experiencing Covid symptoms.

While most people get their results back the following day, it can sometimes take up to three days to receive the verdict.

This is because test samples are sent to labs for analysis.

But with this new technology, time spent waiting for results gets slashed.

This could also prove game-changing for travel.

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Some countries request proof of a negative PCR test before you can travel there from the UK.

And you also need to take a day two PCR test after returning to the UK from a trip abroad.

This also comes after there was “great concern” over a Covid test shortage last month.

There were widespread shortages of lateral flow and PCR tests for delivery on the government’s portal.

And on December 30, there were no PCR slots available across the UK that morning.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned there was Mr was “unprecedented demand” for both PCR and lateral flow tests (LFDs).

He said this “inevitably placed strain on the testing system”.

Now, the Government has scrapped the rule that require a person with a positive lateral flow test follow up with a PCR.

People who test positive in a lateral flow test must self-isolate immediately, but they do not need to take a PCR to confirm the result.

But the rule, which was brought in on January 11, has been called a “temporary measure”.

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