How an AI Startup Used Phonic to Build a Free COVID-19 Test

October 19, 2021
By David Ferris



ABA Solutions is a Russian startup building a variety of machine learning solutions for both industry and society. Their previous work includes computer vision applications and autonomous vehicle safety.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, founders Bulat Shkanov and Aleksandr Glotov read about research from MIT stating that COVID-19 could be reliably detected from a recording of a patient's cough. If commercialized, such a test would be far quicker, cheaper and accessible than traditional PCR tests.

corona cough PCR test versus Covid Cough test

Unfortunately, the research lived only in academia, and no team had yet incorporated this technology into a consumer app. ABA solutions recently became the first to do just this with their COVID-19 test,

Take an audio recording of your cough. It should be 5 seconds long.

How They Used Phonic

Phonic partnered with ABA to enable the collection of massive audio datasets. Audio surveys were used to collect thousands of cough recordings from COVID-19 positive and negative patients. These recordings were then labelled and used to train an audio based model.

The result is an incredibly fast and easy to use COVID-19 test that can be used to supplement other PCR tests.

Test Result: Negative (COVID-19 not detected)

Their Press Release

Startup ABA Solutions has developed a test that detects COVID-19 by analyzing coughs recording. To take the test, you only need a smartphone or computer with Internet access. The test was developed based on research by scientists from MIT ( who confirmed the hypothesis that coughs of COVID-19 patients differ from those of healthy people.

The accuracy of the Covid Cough Test is determined by three characteristics (derived from the test sample):

  • Sensitivity, or the share of COVID-positive individuals recognized correctly, is 88%
  • Specificity, or the share of healthy individuals recognized correctly, is 80%
  • Quality of the ranking (AUC ROC) - 90%

For comparison, the characteristics of the PCR test:

  • Sensitivity - 70% - 85%
  • Specificity - 95%+

With comparable recognition accuracy, the Covid Cough test is more convenient, affordable, and is safer than PCR test. The Covid Cough test is completely anonymous - we do not store user's data and delete cough records immediately after test is taken. The data used to develop the test (1132 cough samples) are provided by Medical Investment Solutions ( and the project All the data is collected from volunteers. The model is becoming more accurate every day thanks to the replenishment of the database of cough samples. After completing the test users can send a record of their cough and information about the results of the PCR test to improve the model.

The main goal of the project is to contribute to defeating the coronavirus. The source code for training the model will soon be published and available for free for entrepreneurs and researchers.

The widespread use of the new test will allow us to instantly detect COVID-19 cases in population and could stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic around the world.

The test can be taken for free at and via the telegram bot  Mobile app is in development.

At this point, the solution can be used for mass population non-medical screening. For medical purposes, acoustic test results need to be confirmed by laboratory PCR test. 

Get in touch

Contacts: Aleksandr Glotov, Co-Founder at ABA Solutions

Phone/Telegram/WhatsApp: +7 (915) 476-74-26


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