It feels like whenever I cough these days it triggers a mini-panic attack that I promptly try to quash with a steady stream of chamomile tea. Thankfully, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they figured out a way to gauge whether a person has COVID-19 just from the sound of their cough, so I may soon get to put my inner hypochondriac to rest.
The tool uses neural networks that can detect the subtle changes in a person’s cough that indicate whether they’re infected, even if they don’t have any other symptoms. Asymptomatic people infected with COVID-19 are a vector for the virus that’s particularly tricky to manage, in part because they’re less likely to get tested because, duh, why would they if they’re feeling fine, right? Thus, carriers could infect others without even realizing it.
But even asymptomatic carriers have one tell that shows they’re infected, MIT researchers found. It’s all in the cough.