By casting a broad, digital net to pick up the signs of coronavirus outbreaks, researchers hope to build an early warning system that uses data from people’s wearable activity trackers. Now, initial data from a study by the Scripps Research Translational Institute showed that devices such as smartwatches and Fitbits may be capable of spotting COVID-19 cases, and could aid in public health efforts to slow the spread of the disease.Launched in March, the DETECT study and its smartphone app collects daily activity data from participants and matches it with their self-reported symptoms, as well as any diagnostic tests they may take.
Results from the study’s first six weeks, spanning over 30,000 participants, showed that significant changes in a person’s normal heart rate, sleep quality and daily movement could help pinpoint new infections. “One of the greatest challenges in stopping COVID-19 from spreading is the ability to quickly identify, trace and isolate infected individuals,” said the study’s first author, Giorgio Quer, director of artificial intelligence at Scripps.
WHO Says COVID-19 Vaccine Trials Are Encouraging
The World Health Organization has welcomed updates from developers scrambling to deliver a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine, but cautioned it is still “going to take time” before one is widely available.It comes shortly after AstraZeneca said its vaccine candidate against the coronavirus had produced a similar immune response in older and younger adults.
The British pharmaceutical giant, working in collaboration with the University of Oxford, said adverse responses to its potential Covid vaccine among the elderly were also found to be lower.The announcement boosted expectations that a potential vaccine could be developed before the end of the year, potentially helping to bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 1.16 million lives.