A rapid screening classifier for diagnosing COVID-19

Yang Xia, Weixiang Chen, Hongyi Ren, Jianping Zhao, Lihua Wang, Rui Jin, Jiesen Zhou, Qiyuan Wang, Fugui Yan, Bin Zhang, Jian Lou, Shaobin Wang, Xiaomeng Li, Jie Zhou, Liming Xia, Cheng Jin, Jianjiang Feng, Wen Li, Huahao Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Rationale: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused a global pandemic. A classifier combining chest X-ray (CXR) with clinical features may serve as a rapid screening approach. Methods: The study included 512 patients with COVID-19 and 106 with influenza A/B pneumonia. A deep neural network (DNN) was applied, and deep features derived from CXR and clinical findings formed fused features for diagnosis prediction. Results: The clinical features of COVID-19 and influenza showed different patterns. Patients with COVID-19 experienced less fever, more diarrhea, and more salient hypercoagulability. Classifiers constructed using the clinical features or CXR had an area under the receiver operating curve (AUC) of 0.909 and 0.919, respectively. The diagnostic efficacy of the classifier combining the clinical features and CXR was dramatically improved and the AUC was 0.952 with 91.5% sensitivity and 81.2% specificity. Moreover, combined classifier was functional in both severe and non-serve COVID-19, with an AUC of 0.971 with 96.9% sensitivity in non-severe cases, which was on par with the computed tomography (CT)-based classifier, but had relatively inferior efficacy in severe cases compared to CT. In extension, we performed a reader study involving three experienced pulmonary physicians, artificial intelligence (AI) system demonstrated superiority in turn-around time and diagnostic accuracy compared with experienced pulmonary physicians. Conclusions: The classifier constructed using clinical and CXR features is efficient, economical, and radiation safe for distinguishing COVID-19 from influenza A/B pneumonia, serving as an ideal rapid screening tool during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-548
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Biological Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Chest X-ray
  • Clinical feature
  • Deep learning


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