King’s College has released a new app designed to allow people to self-report on their coronavirus symptoms so Scientists can better determine how fast the virus is spreading across different parts of the UK.
The idea behind the Covid Symptom Tracker app is is that researchers will be able to better document the spread of the disease by looking at health info that has been logged on a daily basis. The data includes everything from temperature, tiredness, coughing, breathing problems to headaches.
The app will allow ‘official’ participants showing signs of Covid-19 to be sent a home testing kit so they can ID what symptoms correspond to the coronavirus infection.
However, anyone is free to unofficially use the app. They simply won’t be sent a home testing kit. These participants should still allow researchers to understand how Covid-19 progresses in different people, and give great insight into why some develop severe or fatal symptoms while many have only mild symptoms.
The is particularly interested in a cohort of genetically identical twins and non-identical twins. So far 5,000 twins and their families have enrolled to track COVID-19s spread in real-time.
It is hoped that by looking at twins specifically; researchers will be able to separate the effects of genes from environmental factors such as diet, lifestyle, previous illnesses and infections, and even a person gut-biome.
The researchers will use the data taken from the twin group to create a new biobank which can be used for other research projects investigating infection and immune responses in future.
In the short term it is hoped that app can help the need to distinguish mild coronavirus symptoms from regular coughs and colds.
Mistaking a regular cough or cold can cause people to unnecessarily self-isolate when they aren’t infected, or worse go onto inadvertently spread the disease if they only have mild symptoms in future.
The app was developed as a partnership between researchers at King’s College London and King’s College spin-out health data science company ZOE.