Fitbit has detailed some fascinating early findings of its Covid-19 wearables study, which aims to find an algorithm to identify infections early.
That it can detect half of coronavirus infections the day before symptoms appear, with 70 per cent specificity, is the most important development here.
Fitbit Director of Research Conor Heneghan has published an interesting post on the study at the Fitbit blog. It is well worth a read, but let’s take a look at some of the most salient points.
Heneghan writes fatigue is the most commonly reported symptom. Only 55 percent registered a fever, suggesting “temperature screening alone may not be enough to understand who might be infected.”
Breathing rate, heart rate variability and resting heart rate are the metrics Fitbit uses to pinpoint an infection early. HRV decreases, and both breathing rate and heart rate increase as the immune system mounts a response to the virus.
“Those metrics begin to signal changes nearly a week before participants reported symptoms,” writes Heneghan.
Fitbit has submitted its initial research findings for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Those who want to dig much deeper can read the paper online.
So far more than 100,000 Fitbit users in the US and Canada have signed up for the study. The 1,000 reported Covid-19 cases in that cohort are the basis for the results.
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