Download This App and You Could Help to Slow the Spread of the Coronavirus

Self-monitor everyday and provide vital data

Handsome man using phone in a gym
AnchiyGetty Images

A new app, launched today by researchers at King's College, London, is aiming to help to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus – and you can download it, to give researchers a helping hand with data collection.

Titled COVID Symptom Tracker, the tech allows you to self-report, daily, on how you are feeling, whether you have zero issues or are starting to developing COVID-19 symptoms.

This covers everything from your temperature to how tired you are, as well as issues like coughing, breathing problems or headaches. All questions take a minute to complete, total.

The idea is to help academics track:

  • How fast the virus is spreading in your area
  • High-risk areas in the country
  • Who is most at risk, by better understanding symptoms linked to underlying health conditions

    The app, which is free to download, is a partnership between King's and health data science company ZOE (which is a spin-off organisation of the university).

    As well as being used by the general public, the university has recruited 5,000 twins from the the TwinsUK cohort study and their families across the country to trial the app. Twins – both identical and fraternal – are used to collect data like this as they provide insight that could not otherwise be captured.

    By contrasting the trajectories of identical twins with non0identical ones (the latter are as related as regular siblings), academics can prise apart the effects of the virus that have been coded into your genes versus environmental factors, like your diet, your gut microbiome and previous illnesses.

    Any twins who show COVID-19 symptoms will be sent a home-testing kit for the disease, so that the researchers can get a better gage of which symptoms truly correspond to the coronavirus infection. To be clear, anyone who is not a part of the twin study will not be able to be sent a home-testing kit.

    The hope is that the data gathered – both from the twins and the general public – will reveal details about why some people develop a very serious disease as a result of the coronavirus, while others have relatively mild symptoms.

    Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s, said: 'These are worrying times for everyone. Our twins are fantastically committed, enthusiastic health research participants who have already been studied in unprecedented detail, putting us in a unique position to provide vital answers to support the global fight against COVID-19.

    'The more of the public that also use the app, the better the real-time data we will have to combat the outbreak in this country.'

    You can download the COVID Symptom Tracker app, now.


    Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.


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