Wearing a fitness device could help the battle to control the spread of Covid-19.
Scientists from the Scripps Research Translational Institute believe using a mobile app to collect activity from consenting adults may slow down the global pandemic. The DETECT Study was launched in March and has concluded that wearable devices like the Fitbit could identify Covid-19 symptoms including changes in heart rate, sleep, and activity levels.
“What’s exciting here is that we now have a validated digital signal for Covid-19. The next step is to use this to prevent emerging outbreaks from spreading,” said Eric Topol, MD, director and founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. “Roughly 100 million Americans already have a wearable tracker or smartwatch and can help us; all we need is a tiny fraction of them – just 1 per cent or 2 per cent – to use the app.”
Adults living in the U.S. have been invited to participate in the study by downloading the research app MyDataHelps, which will gather diagnostic health changes and also ask people to report any symptoms they may be experiencing. Changes detected by the fitness device will be analysed to see if they are outside of the individual’s normal range for sleep, resting heart rate, or activity level.
“One of the greatest challenges in stopping Covid-19 from spreading is the ability to quickly identify, trace and isolate infected individuals,” explained study author Giorgio Quer, PhD, director of artificial intelligence at Scripps Research Translational Institute. “Early identification of those who are pre-symptomatic or even asymptomatic would be especially valuable, as people may potentially be even more infectious during this period. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Experts are hoping a predictive model may eventually be able to identify coronavirus hotspots early.
More than 30,500 people had agreed to take part in the study as of 7 June, and scientists are hoping to get at least 100,000 individuals to participate.
The study was published in Nature Medicine.