Researchers associated with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jodhpur are planning to develop an Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool to predict Covid-19 from chest x-rays soon. The deep learning-based algorithm in-the-making, called COMiT-Net, learns the abnormalities present in the chest X-Ray images to differentiate between a Covid-19 affected lung and a non-Covid affected lung. In addition to predicting whether the chest X-Ray has Covid-19 pneumonia or not, the developed AI algorithm will also be capable of identifying the infected regions in the lungs, thus making them explainable, the researchers claim.

The experiment was performed with more than 2,500 chest X-Ray images and achieved 96.8% sensitivity. A research paper on this project has been published in the journal “Pattern Recognition”. The research is part of the RAKSHAK project under NM-CPS DST and iHuB Drishti at IIT Jodhpur. The researchers are now aiming to develop a full-scale prototype through the knowledge learnt in this project.

While there have been numerous research studies in Covid-19 detection using X-ray or CT scans in the past year, most of them fail to provide an explainable solution, the researchers say. According to them, the uniqueness of their research is that the proposed study can visually showcase the region which is infected and the technique interprets only from the lung region. The fact that the Artificial Intelligence solution used in this research is explainable from both algorithmic and medical points of view also adds to its attractiveness.

The team that contributed to this research are Aakarsh Malhotra, Visiting Research Scholar at IIT Jodhpur, Surbhi Mittal, PhD Scholar, Computer Science, IIT Jodhpur, Puspita Majumdar, Visiting Research Scholar at IIT Jodhpur, Saheb Chhabra, Visiting Research Scholar at IIT Jodhpur, Kartik Thakral, PhD Scholar, Computer Science, IIT Jodhpur, Mayank Vatsa, Professor, Computer Science, IIT Jodhpur, Dr. Richa Singh, Professor and Head of Department, Computer Science, IIT Jodhpur, Dr. Santanu Chaudhury, Professor and Director, IIT Jodhpur, Ashwin Pudrod, Consultant Pulmonologist, Ashwini Hospital and Ramakant Heart Care Centre, India, Anjali Agrawal, Consultant Radiologist, TeleRadiology Solutions, India.

Incidentally, with the increasing number of Covid-19 cases across various waves around the globe, countries have faced challenges with the limited availability of testing kits and processing centres in remote areas. This has been the key motivation for researchers to find alternate methods of testing which are reliable, easily accessible, and faster. Since the symptoms of Covid-19 are visible on Chest X-Ray, it has become one of the modalities that have gained acceptance as a screening technique, the researchers say.

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