DURHAM – Researchers at Duke University are expanding a recent study intended to help identify the symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. This expanded effort will help the team establish a more comprehensive method of early-symptom detection and provide more information about how the virus can spread through a community.
Originally launched on April 2, 2020, CovIdentify was designed to explore how data collected by smartphones, Apple Watches and other smartwatches could help determine whether or not device users have COVID-19. The project, led by assistant professor of biomedical engineering Jessilyn Dunn, Ryan Shaw, an associate professor of nursing and director of the Health Innovation Lab, and other collaborators in Duke Health and MEDx (Medicine + Engineering at Duke), explores how biometric information, like sleep schedules, oxygen levels, activity levels and heart rate, can help indicate early symptoms of COVID-19.
In the expanded phase of their study, the team will launch an iOS application and send devices to target populations and underserved communities that are at the highest risk of contracting the coronavirus. They have also established formal partnerships with Garmin and Fitbit, to expand the kinds of devices available for the study.
“Our team recognized that COVID-19 was going to be a long-term health care problem, and we knew that wearable devices and smartphones would be a good way to develop digital biomarkers that could determine a COVID-19 infection,” said Shaw. “One of our goals is to expand our data collection capabilities, which will increase our ability to differentiate the COVID-19 infection from other illnesses. This differentiation is going to be key, as we expect to see waves of resurgence pop up as the country opens back up, and some of these flare-ups may coincide with flu season.”