[UPDATE] Improved COVID-19 symptom-tracking app recruiting users across the USA

Written by Ilana Landau, Editor

An updated version of the real-time COVID-19 Symptom Tracker app, which has close to 2 million users in the UK, is to be rolled out across the USA. The app aims to track the onset and progression of COVID-19 symptoms, to help identify individuals most at risk of developing the disease.

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Updated COVID-19 symptom-tracking app recruiting users across the USA

A real-time symptom-tracking app for COVID-19 was recently made publicly available in the UK and currently has close to 2 million users. Now, in collaboration with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C; CA, USA), researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (both MA, USA), Stanford Medical (CA, USA), the healthcare science company Zoe Global Ltd. and King’s College London (both London, UK) have updated the app and are recruiting users across the USA, including healthcare professionals and members of the general public. The app aims to track the onset and progression of COVID-19 symptoms, to help identify individuals most at risk of developing the diseases and slow its spread.

The symptom-tracking app initially requires users to answer simple questions about themselves and their current health, then self-report daily on any symptoms of illness or lack thereof.

As individuals with active cancer, those who have had cancer or are taking cancer medications may be at increased risk of developing COVID-19, collaborators from SU2C recommended updates to the app such that the initial reporting on users’ current health status includes questions pertaining to if they have or have had cancer, what cancer type this is, if they are enrolled in a clinical trial, are on cancer medications or if they live with someone who has cancer.

Sung Poblete, CEO of SU2C, commented: “There is too much we don’t know about COVID-19 in the cancer community. These data will be invaluable to assess how best to support this high-risk community, and for cancer patients and survivors to contribute to combatting this pandemic.”

In a recent interview with our sister site Oncology Central, Poblete discussed SU2C’s involvement in the ‘COVID Symptom Tracker’ app and why it is so important to collect data on at-risk populations, including cancer patients and survivors.

Read the full interview on Oncology Central now>>

The updated app is to initially recruit healthcare workers and participants in the Harvard-led Nurses’ Health Studies as users, however, is also available to members of the general public in the USA who download the app.

It is hoped that data from the app will equip researchers and policy makers with greater understanding of the onset and progress of COVID-19, to investigate who is most at risk of developing the disease and why it is more fatal for certain patient populations.

Contributing researcher Andrew Chan (Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) stated: “It is clear that symptoms of COVID-19 can vary widely, with some individuals harboring the virus with minimal symptoms or symptoms such as diarrhea that could be mistaken for something else.”

“We know the reality is that there is a lack of available and timely testing of COVID-19. This may be a better way to find out where hot spots of spread are, new symptoms to look out for, and use as a planning tool to target quarantines, send ventilators and medical equipment and provide real-time data to plan for future outbreaks,” concluded Chan.

Anonymized user data from the app will be securely made available to academic researchers and policymakers, on a strictly non-commercial basis. Zip code-level data from the app could help policy makers predict when and where the next wave of the virus may hit.


https://standuptocancer.org/press/new-covid-19-symptom-research-app-recruiting-millions-of-americans-including-healthcare-professionals-cancer-patients-and-survivors-to-beat-the-disease/; https://covid.joinzoe.com/us-post/covid-symptom-tracker-us; www.monganinstitute.org/cope-consortium

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Real-time symptom-tracking app launched to help monitor and slow COVID-19 spread

Researchers from King’s College London (UK) have launched a mobile app, and recruited approximately 5000 individuals to trial it, to track the real-time progression of COVID-19 spread. Investigators hope the app will provide clarity on the rate of disease spread, help identify particularly high-risk regions and which individuals may be most at risk of developing the disease.

The initial cohort of 5000 individuals to trial the app has been recruited from the TwinsUK (London, UK) study — a study, which has been ongoing for more than 3 decades, involving 15,000 identical and non-identical twins. The majority of TwinsUK participants have already undergone extensive comprehensive genetic analysis, and microbiome and immune profiling.

Lead investigator Tim Spector (King’s College London) commented: “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.”

Trial participants will document their physiological information in the app on a daily basis, including data on parameters such as their temperature, level of fatigue and breathing problems. Users who display signs of COVID-19 will receive home-testing kits, to determine if reported symptoms are resulting from disease infection, which researchers believe is clinically urgent given the current limits on testing. The general public will also be able to utilize the app for symptom tracking, however, will not have access to home-testing kits.

By recruiting identical and non-identical twins to trial this app initially, researchers hope to disentangle the effects of genetics from environmental factors — including lifestyle and previous illnesses — on disease trajectory.

Investigators hope that the trial will provide important information and clarification on factors that contribute to more severe disease symptoms and outcomes in different individuals. Further, due to the similarity in symptoms of COVID-19 and seasonal colds and flu, there is ambiguity as to whether an individual who is mildly symptomatic truly has the disease and should self-isolate. Researchers hope this study will aid in distinguishing between seasonal cold and flu, and true COVID-19, so that individuals are not forced to self-isolate unnecessarily, nor inadvertently spread the disease when they truly have a mild version of it.



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