New symptom tracking app aims to slow spread of coronavirus
King's College London has launched a new app that tracks symptoms related to novel coronavirus (COVID-19), allowing anyone to self-report daily. Around 5,000 twins and their families across the UK have been recruited from the TwinsUK cohort study to trial the app, which tracks in real-time how the disease progresses. The aim of the app is to help slow the outbreak, by helping researchers identify:
How fast the virus is spreading in your area
High-risk areas in the country
Who is most at risk, by better understanding symptoms linked to underlying health conditions
Twins using the app will record information about their health on a daily basis, including temperature, tiredness, and symptoms such as coughing, breathing problems or headaches. Any participants showing signs of COVID-19 will be sent a home testing kit to better understand what symptoms truly correspond to the coronavirus infection. Researchers believe this is clinically urgent given the current limits on testing. The app will be also available to the general public without the home testing component of the study.
Comparing genetically identical twins with non-identical twins, who are as related as regular siblings, will enable researchers to separate the effects of genes from environmental factors such as diet, lifestyle, previous illnesses and infections, and the microbes within the gut (microbiome). Samples taken from the twin group will be used to generate a biobank for use in future research projects investigating infection and immune responses. Researchers believe that the data from the study will reveal important information about the symptoms and progress of the COVID-19 infection in different people, and why some go on to develop the more severe or fatal disease while others have only mild symptoms.
They also say it will help the urgent clinical need to distinguish mild coronavirus symptoms from seasonal coughs and colds, which may be leading people to unnecessarily self-isolate when they aren’t infected or inadvertently go out and spread the disease when they are.
(Content and Image Courtesy: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/new-symptom-tracking-app-aims-to-slow-spread-of-coronavirus)