CHICAGO (CBS)– It could be a game-changer; a COVID-19 test that’s cheaper and faster than the rest.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports it’s artificial intelligence making the diagnosis. The technology is called Deep COVID-XR.

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“This is such a unique collaborative experience,” said Dr. Ramsey Wehbe, a Northwestern University cardiologist.

Wehbe joined forces with Northwestern engineering professor Aggelos Katsaggelos to lead a team of researchers who created a new way to detect COVID-19.

“We used a form of artificial intelligence called deep learning,” Wehbe said.

Katsaggelos, Wehbe, and their Northwestern colleagues created an artificial intelligence program to spot COVID-19 in lung X-rays; training and testing the computer program using 17,000 X-rays.

“So the same way a little child learns to distinguish between a cat and a dog – the parents say ‘Oh, here’s a cat. Here’s another cat,’ and after a few times, the child can distinguish cats and dogs – it’s a very similar process to imitating at some level how humans learn,” Katsaggelos said.

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“This was a system that performed as well as a team of very experienced thoracic radiologists, specialized radiologists; and, so, not every institution has that level of expertise available,” Wehbe said.

Here’s the other advantage: the AI program detects COVID in the lungs quickly; very quickly.

Wehbe said the artificial intelligence can tell within seconds whether or not COVID has been detected; 10 times faster than even specialized radiologists looking at the same X-ray, researchers insist.

And there’s no comparison between the speed of the AI detection and the time it takes to get a result from the COVID test we’ve come to know.

“The problem is those tests can take hours or days even to come back. And so a system that’s able to detect COVID-19 in a matter of seconds could be very helpful for triage and infection control in a hospital,” Wehbe said.

Still, he and Katsaggelos emphasized the AI program was not designed to replace the COVID-19 test many of have us taken, because signs of the coronavirus are not always in the lungs. The AI program is subject to approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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