King’s College London launches coronavirus symptom app study
As scientists try to track the spread of the coronavirus across the UK, technology has played its part, with mobile phone apps becoming a valuable tool.
Now, an app developed by King’s College London and tech company Zoe is being used to conduct one of the world’s largest studies on the symptoms and spread of the coronavirus.
Unrelated to NHS tracking and tracing app, the King’s College Covid Symptom Study app tracks symptoms of the disease and has so far been downloaded by over three million UK smartphone users.
The COVID Symptom Study app is easy to use and simply asks people to give daily health updates whether they are feeling sick or not, and to log any coronavirus symptoms they may be experiencing.
What is the purpose of the app?
The research app will help scientists in some key areas related to COVID-19. Including:
- Better understand the symptoms of COVID-19
- Learn how fast the coronavirus is spreading in different regions
- Identify the areas where there is the most risk
- Identify those most at risk due to existing health problems
The King’s College London team, led by Professor Tim Spector, has now started a clinical trial using AI tools and the information people submitted through the COVID Symptom Study app.
The study will test whether accurate predictions about whether a person actually has COVID-19 based on the symptoms they report in the app can be made. If successful, these could be used as a “digital test”.
A digital test that provides accurate results would be very beneficial. It would be easy to complete, provide results quickly, and be easily accessible to a large number of people who might otherwise have difficulty getting to the actual test sites.
Millions of people could then easily be tested every day, and the small number of people who need follow-up testing could be easily identified.
How will the study work?
Anyone over the age of 18 who uses the COVID Symptom Study app to report symptoms will be invited to participate in the study.
Anyone using the app who is unwell will be asked to take a traditional swab test. Then, they will be asked to continue recording their symptoms in the app and enter the results of their coronavirus swab test. The results will then be compared to AI diagnostic predictions and current NHS health advice.
Professor Tim Spector of King’s College London said: “We are very excited to launch this clinical trial at King’s College London. It is extremely important for us to validate the algorithm. In doing so, we come one step closer to creating a very accurate tool that will be able to tell people whether or not they have COVID without them needing to wait for a test. People will be able to make decisions about things like self-isolation based on this data and that means we will be able to slow the spread of the deadly virus. “