Updated: Sep 8, 2021
Congratulation to Richard Du our current PhD student who is the first author for this paper under the supervision of Dr Vardhanabhuti. This work was done in collaboration with multiple institutions in Hong Kong as well as the Hospital Authority AI Lab. It was a true multi-disciplinary collaboration! Well done to all.
Triaging and prioritising patients for RT-PCR test had been essential in the management of COVID-19 in resource-scarce countries. In this study, we applied machine learning (ML) to the task of detection of SARS-CoV-2 infection using basic laboratory markers. We performed the statistical analysis and trained an ML model on a retrospective cohort of 5148 patients from 24 hospitals in Hong Kong to classify COVID-19 and other aetiology of pneumonia. We validated the model on three temporal validation sets from different waves of infection in Hong Kong. For predicting SARS-CoV-2 infection, the ML model achieved high AUCs and specificity but low sensitivity in all three validation sets (AUC: 89.9–95.8%; Sensitivity: 55.5–77.8%; Specificity: 91.5–98.3%). When used in adjunction with radiologist interpretations of chest radiographs, the sensitivity was over 90% while keeping moderate specificity. Our study showed that machine learning model based on readily available laboratory markers could achieve high accuracy in predicting SARS-CoV-2 infection.