In a recent new development, Pfizer has reportedly closed a deal with an Australian digital healthcare company, “ResApp”, and acquired its smartphone app for US$120 million. The app has the capability to precisely determine one of the most prominent symptoms of COVID-19, i.e., cough. When a person sneezes, the app can accurately determine the voice parameters and align them with its embedded machine learning algorithm, and in a matter of just seconds, you will know whether you have COVID-19 or just a seasonal cough. Pfizer has achieved the milestone after analyzing the promising results of the app.
Coupled with this, the company “ResApp” has been making efforts since long to develop a system that could accurately determine the sound of the cough. Hence, after a lot of research work, the company was successful in developing an algorithm that could effectively go with its expectations. At first, it was only designed to detect pneumonia but the researchers have enhanced the capabilities of the app and made it able to detect not only pneumonia but also asthma, croup, and bronchiolitis as well. Surprisingly, they achieved the breakthrough by 2019.
Interestingly enough, as COVID wreaked havoc across the world, the company got a golden opportunity to integrate the mechanism of COVID detection into its system as well, through the sound of a mere cough. This enabled them to receive a lot of acknowledgments from renowned companies across the world, and at the beginning of 2022, they became successful in effectively demonstrating excellent results in its first trial. Based on the findings of the newly incorporated algorithm, it was revealed that the system can detect around 92% of positive cases of COVID and that too with 80% accuracy. This shows that the probability of getting incorrect results is only two out of every 10 people.
To that end, the spokesperson of Pfizer said in a recent announcement, “We believe the COVID-19 screening tool is the next step to potentially provide new solutions for consumers that aim to quell this disease. We look forward to refining this algorithm further and working with regulators around the world to bring this important product to consumers as quickly as possible.” In addition to this, Udantha Abeyratne who is one of the most renowned developers of the machine algorithm for the app said:
“From the very beginning, I had a big vision to develop scalable, cheap technologies to diagnose pulmonary diseases all over the world – not only in remote sub-Saharan Africa but even in developed urban cities like New York and Brisbane. I hope they will be able to diagnose killer diseases like pneumonia in very remote communities in Africa and Asia because they don’t have access to sophisticated hospitals.”