App Launched to Track Symptoms of Coronavirus

The biggest challenge faced by the health care systems across the globe right now is how best to manage the coronavirus pandemic. Questions like how many hospital beds and ventilators are needed in an area to where the outbreak is happening, are on the minds of every public health official. In response to this, Kings College London in UK has launched a new app which can help track symptoms of coronavirus in different patients across UK.

The App

The app, called COVID Symptom Tracker, was designed to answer questions like which are the high-risk areas in the United Kingdom, who is most at risk, how symptoms are linked to underlying conditions, and how fast the virus is spreading in an area.

Led by Professor of genetic epidemiology at Kings College, Tim Spector, the researchers believe that the data from study will reveal important information about the virus. Why some symptoms develop in one population and why other symptoms develop in other people, why some have severe or fatal illness while others have mild infection, these are some of the key questions that will be answered through the research.

The app data will also help researchers differentiate between symptoms of coronavirus, and coughs and cold. This can help decide when or when not to isolate people.

Source: Our World in Data

The app was designed by a startup company called Zoe, in partnership with Kings College. The next step in the plan is to take the app to the United States as well. The researchers are working with researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Stanford already and plan to launch the app in the US soon.

Nearly 5,000 twins and their families have been approached from a pool of 15,000 twins in the TwinsUK cohort study. The app will track their symptoms daily and show how the disease progresses in real time. The app aims to help slow down the pandemic.

Why Use Twins

Both identical and non-identical twins will participate in the study. Twins are used for the study to identify differences in how the virus affects people with different and similar genes. The study will help researchers separate the effects of genes from the environmental factors that play a role during coronavirus infection.

Source: Psychology Wizard

The twins will use the app to record information like their temperature, level of tiredness, coughing, if any, breathing problems and headaches. Anyone showing signs of coronavirus will be sent a home kit to monitor these symptoms better. This will help scientists make deductions on variety of subjects.

The app will also be provided to general public without the home kit, to gather information. If in the future the researchers can gather enough resources to monitor every user, they will be sent home kits as well. The decision for not sending home kits right now was taken due to limited resources.

TwinsUK COVID-19 study is being funded by King’s College London, ZOE Global Ltd, the CDRF charity, and the National Institute of Health Research Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre.

Any data that is collected will be used only for academic purposes or public health use. No data will be used for commercial use.

Response by The Public

Since being launched on Tuesday, the app has been downloaded 750,000 times. The app is now the third most popular (general) app on Apple App Store in the UK. The app is number one among any medical apps on the platform. The researchers shared that the app is now being installed at the rate of 50,000 installs per hour.

Professor Spector shared, “We are hoping to get to one million downloads by the end of the day and we will also be ready to release data by then for the NHS, data modellers and researchers to play with.”

However, Professor Spector is advising people to exercise caution as many people at such a time might try and collect your data and details for bogus projects and later sell it.

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