Mount Sinai Hospital researchers have become the first in the US to use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse patients with Covid-19.

The algorithm uses imaging and clinical data to detect Covid-19, based on how lung disease looks in computed tomography (CT) scans of the chest. These scans are combined with patient information such as symptoms, age, bloodwork results and possible contact with infected individuals.

Mount Sinai director of biomedical engineering and imaging Dr Zahi Fayad said: “Imaging can help give a rapid and accurate diagnosis – lab tests can take up to two days, and there is the possibility of false negatives – meaning imaging can help isolate patients immediately if needed, and manage hospital resources effectively.

“The high sensitivity of our AI model can provide a ‘second opinion’ to physicians in cases where CT is either negative (in the early course of infection) or shows nonspecific findings, which can be common. It’s something that should be considered on a wider scale, especially in the United States, where currently we have more spare capacity for CT scanning than in labs for genetic tests.”

Currently, CT scans are not widely used for Covid-19 diagnosis in the US.