COVID-19 infections - remote early detection


Start Date
End Date
IMI2 - Call 21
Grant agreement number

Type of Action: 
RIA (Research and Innovation Action)

IMI Funding
9 592 029
EFPIA in kind
737 225
Total Cost
10 329 254


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.

Achievements & News

COVID-RED seeks volunteers to help answer key question: Can digital tech detect COVID-19 infection?
April 2021

The COVID-RED project is calling on people in the Netherlands to join its study on the ability of digital devices to detect signs of COVID-19 before the user even starts to feel ill.### One of the biggest challenges in controlling the spread of COVID-19 is the difficulty of identifying people who are infectious but don’t know it because they feel perfectly healthy. But what if digital technologies could detect subtle changes in our bodies and prompt us to get tested before we start to feel unwell?

Enter COVID-RED, which plans to answer this question. At the heart of the project is the Ava bracelet, a certified medical device that was initially designed to track fertility but has been adapted to pick up early signs of COVID-19 infection. In a pilot study, the bracelet picked up signs of infection two days before the first symptoms appeared in 71 % of cases.

Now, the COVID-RED project has launched a new study to test and refine the bracelet and its accompanying COVID-detection algorithm and app in a larger group of 20 000 people in the Netherlands. They opened recruitment on 26 March, and by 9 April had hit the 10 000 mark.

Now the project is working hard to achieve its goal of recruiting 20 000 people. Participants receive an Ava bracelet and they will have to wear it every night, then synchronise the data with a special app in the morning. Every two weeks they will also be asked to answer a few questions via the app. Finally, participants will be asked to send in a few drops of blood four times during the study. The project has developed extensive materials to support participants throughout the study.

Find out more

  • Read the article in full
  • Want to take part in the study? Find out how here (page in Dutch; participation is only open to people living in the Netherlands)

Algorithmic advances, triage models and getting the ethical all-clear: IMI COVID-19 research efforts advance
February 2021

Algorithmic advances, triage models and getting the ethical all-clear: the diagnostic projects launched by IMI in 2020 are making steady progress.###

COVID-RED is working on developing a wearable device that can be used for remote early detection of SARS-CoV2-infections. Findings from the project’s feasibility study have proven very encouraging; the team have produced an algorithm capable of indicating potential Covid-19 infection more rapidly than the current symptom-based system. The team have also identified participants and sites for a large study that will include 20 000 individuals. They are currently waiting for approval from local ethical authorities before starting recruitment.

DECISION is working on a miniaturised, disposable molecular point-of-care diagnostic device. The electronic base of their small instrument has been successfully designed and a micro controller mainboard and the firmware developed. They are currently working on optimising the workflow, and the development of a compatible chemical/enzymatic, thermal lysis.

DRAGON is developing diagnostic and prognostic models based on imaging, combined with molecular profiling by AI-enhanced analysis deployed by federated machine learning networks. The team have created a model for triage of COVID-19 patients, a platform for predictive models which enables doctors to supplement their judgment with patient-specific predictions, and supports researchers in showcasing their work.

RAPID-COVID is working on high-throughput automation and point-of-care identification of COVID for a diagnostic test  that can detect SARS-CoV-2 as well as 30 other common respiratory bacteria and viruses, to ensure patients are quickly isolated and that all patients receive the right treatment. Preliminary testing of the point-of-care prototype instrument started in December 2020 on known samples, with clinical testing due to start in March 2021. The project is making good progress in optimising the robotic system to be used for the clinical study.

Find out more

Participants Show participants on map

EFPIA companies
  • Roche Diagnostics Nederland BV, Almere, Netherlands
  • Takeda Pharmaceuticals International AG, Glattpark-Opfikon (Zurich), Switzerland
Universities, research organisations, public bodies, non-profit groups
  • Stichting Sanquin Bloedvoorziening, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • University College London, London, United Kingdom
  • Vive - Det Nationale Forsknings- Og Analysecenter For Velfaerd, Copenhagen, Denmark
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-sized companies (<€500 m turnover)
  • Ava Sciences Fmtc GMBH, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Julius Clinical Research BV, Zeist, Netherlands
  • Labormedizinosches Zentrum Dr Rischostschweiz AG, Buchs, Switzerland
Third parties
  • Labormedizinisches Zentrum Dr Rischservices AG, Buchs, Switzerland
Project coordinator
Diederick Grobbee
Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht