Discovery and Analytical Validation of a Vocal Biomarker to Monitor Anosmia and Ageusia in Patients with COVID-19: Cross-sectional Study

Eduardo Higa, Abir Elbéji, Lu Zhang, Aurélie Fischer, Gloria A. Aguayo, Petr V. Nazarov, Guy Fagherazzi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 disease has multiple symptoms, with anosmia and ageusia being the most prevalent, varying from 75% to 95% and from 50% to 80% of infected patients, respectively. An automatic assessment tool for these symptoms will help monitor the disease in a fast and noninvasive manner. Objective: We hypothesized that people with COVID-19 experiencing anosmia and ageusia had different voice features than those without such symptoms. Our objective was to develop an artificial intelligence pipeline to identify and internally validate a vocal biomarker of these symptoms for remotely monitoring them. Methods: This study used population-based data. Participants were assessed daily through a web-based questionnaire and asked to register 2 different types of voice recordings. They were adults (aged >18 years) who were confirmed by a polymerase chain reaction test to be positive for COVID-19 in Luxembourg and met the inclusion criteria. Statistical methods such as recursive feature elimination for dimensionality reduction, multiple statistical learning methods, and hypothesis tests were used throughout this study. The TRIPOD (Transparent Reporting of a multivariable prediction model for Individual Prognosis Or Diagnosis) Prediction Model Development checklist was used to structure the research. Results: This study included 259 participants. Younger (aged <35 years) and female participants showed higher rates of ageusia and anosmia. Participants were aged 41 (SD 13) years on average, and the data set was balanced for sex (female: 134/259, 51.7%; male: 125/259, 48.3%). The analyzed symptom was present in 94 (36.3%) out of 259 participants and in 450 (27.5%) out of 1636 audio recordings. In all, 2 machine learning models were built, one for Android and one for iOS devices, and both had high accuracy—88% for Android and 85% for iOS. The final biomarker was then calculated using these models and internally validated. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that people with COVID-19 who have anosmia and ageusia have different voice features from those without these symptoms. Upon further validation, these vocal biomarkers could be nested in digital devices to improve symptom assessment in clinical practice and enhance the telemonitoring of COVID-19–related symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere35622
JournalJMIR Medical Informatics
Volume10
Issue number11
Early online date7 Sept 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • ageusia
  • AI
  • anosmia
  • artificial intelligence
  • biomarker
  • COVID-19
  • device
  • digital
  • digital assessment tool
  • digital health
  • disease
  • loss of smell
  • loss of taste
  • medical informatics
  • noninvasive
  • pandemic
  • symptoms
  • telehealth
  • telemonitoring
  • tool
  • vocal biomarker

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