Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are being widely used to manage COVID-19 pandemic. However, many results remain unreported or unconfirmed, altering a correct epidemiological surveillance.
Our aim was to evaluate an artificial intelligence–based smartphone app, connected to a cloud web platform, to automatically and objectively read RDT results and assess its impact on COVID-19 pandemic management.
Overall, 252 human sera were used to inoculate a total of 1165 RDTs for training and validation purposes. We then conducted two field studies to assess the performance on real-world scenarios by testing 172 antibody RDTs at two nursing homes and 96 antigen RDTs at one hospital emergency department.
Field studies demonstrated high levels of sensitivity (100%) and specificity (94.4%, CI 92.8%-96.1%) for reading IgG band of COVID-19 antibody RDTs compared to visual readings from health workers. Sensitivity of detecting IgM test bands was 100%, and specificity was 95.8% (CI 94.3%-97.3%). All COVID-19 antigen RDTs were correctly read by the app.
The proposed reading system is automatic, reducing variability and uncertainty associated with RDTs interpretation and can be used to read different RDT brands. The web platform serves as a real-time epidemiological tracking tool and facilitates reporting of positive RDTs to relevant health authorities.