Campus News

COVID-19 detection app to be tested on campus

by GRACE CARLO, staff writer
Photo from Xavier.edu
According to Sonde Health, its new app will be able to predict with 70% accuracy whether of not the user is
at risk of showing COVID-19 symptoms. They are currently testing the app amongst the student body at Xavier

At the beginning of March, Xavier University Center for Population Health decided to partner with Sonde Health of Boston to test the efficacy of a vocal biomarker platform that detects potential symptoms of COVID-19. 

The app detects signs of  respiratory illness through a six-second video. 

125  selected students will be observed by the app a recording of them saying “aah’’ in a silent room once a day. 

If the app finds that the sample could show a respiratory illness, it prompts screening questions. After, it advises if the user should get tested for COVID-19. 

However, symptomatic or not, all participants will be required to get tested before and after using the screening app to help determine its accuracy. 

Sonde Health promises that the tool can predict with 70% certainty whether or not the person is at a high risk of experiencing respiratory illness. 

“Xavier signed onto the study because of the lasting impacts that this can have on the campus and even the general population as a whole,” senior psychology major and student study coordinator Camryn Backman stated. 

The app was developed in hopes of catching potential COVID-19 positive patients therefore reducing the spread before they spread the virus. 

Dr. Victor Ronis-Tobin, interim director of the Center for Population Health and principal investigator, told Businesswire, “This is a great opportunity to evaluate population health tools and strategies to benefit the larger community through scientific rigor — in effect putting our mission into practice.” 

“Online learning has been tough for everyone and most people want to be back in person and this app has the potential to do it,” Backman said. 

“This app can be distributed across campus and if everyone corporates. We can do this to keep Xavier safe,” she added.  

The administration believes that Xavier staff and students have done an impressive job thus far reducing the spread of COVID-19 on campus. 

Diligent mask-wearing, social distancing and numerous cleaning stations located throughout campus have helped reduce the spread of the virus. 

With vaccine distribution rapidly occuring throughout the country, Ronis-Tobin emphasized the significance of reducing the spread of COVID-19, especially on college campuses.

“Healthy, college-aged students are likely to be among the last people to be vaccinated, so it’s important to continue looking for ways to enhance the protections for this group,” Ronis-Tobin said to Businesswire. 

In the future, Sonde Health hopes the app could potentially play a role in detecting more than just COVID-19 related symptoms. 

Dr. Ronis-Tobin told the Cincinnati Enquirer, “We’re very excited, we feel we are foreshadowing the future. We want a solution for everyone.” 

By using the app, Xavier plans to set an example for the nation and other colleges in how to efficiently detect COVID-19 symptoms. 

Student Recruitment trial started on Monday, March 1. 

Students who are placed into quarantine for being a close contact to a COVID-19 positive are eligible to participate in the trial.

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