Could digital technologies help to detect COVID-19 cases? The COVID-RED project thinks so – it aims to assess how wearable devices and mobile apps could pick up on potential cases before people start to feel unwell.
It is well known that people with COVID-19 are highly infectious in the 48 hours before they develop symptoms. A key element in COVID-RED’s plans is an Ava bracelet, a wearable device typically used by women to track their fertility. The bracelet is equipped with sensors to measure things like the user’s breathing rate, pulse and skin temperature, which could change slightly before the user actually starts to feel ill.
The bracelet will sync with a mobile app that will detect any unusual variation in these parameters. The app will also allow users to report any symptoms, as well as any factors that could influence the bracelet’s findings, such as having drunk alcohol or the use of medicines to reduce fever.
Based on all this input, an algorithm would provide the user with real-time feedback on the likelihood of infection, and whether or not the user should self-isolate or seek medical advice (for a potential COVID test or for further care, for example).
COVID-RED will test its system on 13 000 people from the general population, plus 7 000 people from high risk groups. In parallel, a group of the same size will be equipped with just the app, but no bracelet. At the end of the study, all participants will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies.