A hybrid deep transfer learning-based approach for COVID-19 classification in chest X-ray images

Document Type : Research Article


1 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Meybod University, Meybod, Iran

2 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Tabriz University, Tabriz, Iran

3 Department of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Vali-e-Asr University of Rafsanjan, Rafsanjan, Iran


The COVID-19 pandemic is a severe public health hazard. Hence, proper and early diagnosis is necessary to control infection progression. We can diagnose this disease by employing a chest X-ray (CXR) screening, which is ordinarily cheaper and less harmful than a Computed Tomography scan (CT scan) and is continuously accessible in small or rustic hospitals. Since the COVID-19 dataset is inadequate and cannot be strictly distinguished from CXR, Deep Transfer Learning (DTL) models can be used to diagnose coronavirus even with access to a small number of images. In this paper, we presented an approach to diagnosis COVID-19 using CXR images based on the concatenated features vector of the three DTL structures and soft-voting feature selection procedure, including Receiver of Curve (ROC), Entropy, and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) techniques. Our hybrid model reduces the feature vector size and classifies it in optimize manner to improve the decision-making process. A collection of 2,863 CXR images comprising normal, bacterial, viral, and COVID-19 cases were prepared in JPEG format from the Medical Imaging Center of Vasei Hospital, Sabzevar, Iran. The proposed approach obtained an Accuracy of 99.34%, Sensitivity of 99.48%, Specificity of 99.27% while having a far fewer number of trainable parameters in contrast to its counterparts. Compared to the latest similar methods, the diagnosis accuracy has increased from 1.5 to 2.2%. The comparative experiment reveals the advantage of the suggested COVID-19 classification pattern based on DTL over other competing schemes.


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