A Brisbane-based company that invented a smartphone app it says can diagnose COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses by listening to someone cough has been purchased by Pfizer for nearly $180 million. ResApp Health Limited uses diagnostic technology developed by Associate Professor Udantha Abeyratne and his research team at the University of Queensland (UQ) to record and analyse a patient’s coughs on a smartphone.
- Recent studies had shown the app had a 92 per cent success rate in diagnosing the virus
- Pfizer had offered to buy ResApp earlier this year
- The developer says he hopes the acquisition will help people around the world
The app also considers the self-reporting of simple symptoms like a runny nose or fever to diagnose and measure the severity of a range of pulmonary diseases, including asthma and pneumonia.
Pfizer, which is one of the world’s largest bio-pharmaceutical companies, offered to buy ResApp earlier this year when the company announced positive results for its COVID-19 screening test.
Recent studies had shown the app had a 92 per cent success rate in diagnosing the virus among symptomatic patients, but more clinical trials were needed for it to gain regulatory approval.
A Pfizer spokesperson said they were encouraged by the data they had seen so far and the $179 million acquisition, finalised on Monday, was another move toward enhancing the company’s expertise in digital health. “We believe the COVID-19 screening tool is the next step to potentially provide new solutions for consumers that aim to quell this disease,” they said. “We look forward to refining this algorithm further and working with regulators around the world to bring this important product to consumers as quickly as possible.”
UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said it was an “outstanding” outcome for ResApp and associated researchers as well. “The value of translating research into new point-of-care diagnostics to improve healthcare on a global scale cannot be understated,” Professor Terry said.
UQ’s commercialisation company UniQuest licensed the technology to ResApp in September 2014.