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US Universities Introduce App That Predicts COVID-19 Symptoms

By José Escobedo | Thu, 05/28/2020 - 19:23

Predicting COVID-19 symptoms before they show up? A group of scientists from the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) and the university’s medicine department (WVU Medicine), in conjunction with Oura Health, are precisely working on this by introducing a platform that can anticipate COVID-19 symptoms in healthy people three days in advance. The importance of this discovery is that scientists say pre-symptomatic individuals can get screened and tested and reduce exposure risk among healthcare workers and first aid responders.

RNI and WVU researchers say the study uses biometric data collected by the Oura Ring, which is a wearable ring with a metallic appearance. The unique trait behind it is that it has sensors that survey physiological metrics. These include body temperature, sleeping patterns and heart rate, among other vital signs. Medical researchers took the data and combined it with physiological, cognitive and behavioral biometric information from approximately 600 healthcare workers, reports The Intelligencer.

One of the main challenges that healthcare workers and first responders face while fighting COVID-19 is that they never know who has already been infected. Individuals that do not have any symptoms can spread the virus before they realize they are infected. “The holistic and integrated neuroscience platform developed by RNI continuously monitors the human operating system, which allows for the accurate prediction of the onset of viral infection symptoms associated with COVID-19,” said Dr. Ali Rezai, Executive Chair of the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute to The Intelligencer. “We feel this platform will be integral to protecting our healthcare workers, first responders and communities as we adjust to life in the COVID-19 era.”

To detect COVID-19 symptoms, a collaborative effort including the RNI platform, the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute app, the Oura Ring and artificial intelligence (AI) guided models allows to forecast and predict the onset of COVID-19-related symptoms three days in advance with 90 percent accuracy. It has been widely reported that people who have COVID-19 symptoms generally have the chills, experience low to medium-high fever, difficulties in breathing, experience an absent sense of smell and taste, fatigue, among other symptoms. Researchers say the technology can serve as a decision-making tool to help stop the spread of COVID-19. These, however, are early results from Phase 1 of the study and need to be peer-reviewed.

TechCrunch reported that participants in the study wore the Oura Ring and provided additional data that was then used to develop AI-based models to anticipate the onset of symptoms before they physically manifested. “We are hopeful that Oura’s technology will advance how people identify and understand our body’s most nuanced physiological signals and warning signs, as they relate to infectious diseases like COVID-19,” Harpreet Rai, CEO of Oura Health, said. “Partnering with the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute on this important study helps fulfill Oura’s vision of offering data for the public good and empowering individuals with the personal insights needed to lead healthier lives.”

The first part of the study that has been done with the collaboration of Oura Health currently involves more than 600 healthcare workers and first care responders. In an effort to further carry out investigations, RNI researchers have teamed up with Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Vanderbilt University in Nashville and other institutions across West Virginia, New York City and California. Plans to include 10,000 participants in the study are underway.

Meanwhile, in Mexico, in a recent report published by MBN, Banco Santander and BBVA have joined forces to develop and provide an app for Mexico City’s local government in the hopes of fighting COVID-19. The app is designed to provide users information about the virus. “The app is designed to inform users about the pandemic, enabling them to perform a COVID-19 self-diagnosis, prevent its spread, track people’s symptoms, avoid overcrowding at hospitals and provide reliable information to the authorities in real time,” according to the bank’s website. The app will also let users find the closest available hospital.

Eduardo Osuna, Vice President and General Director of BBVA in Mexico, said in a statement: “It is time to gather our strength and remain strong as a country. This is why we are collecting human talent to develop this app, while being socially responsible and collaborating with the government so that more Mexicans can have prompt information delivered to them and have all the right tools to fight COVID-19.”  Osuna said that leaders of the banking sector in BBVA have one objective in mind, which is to work for the well-being of all people. “This is why we will continue helping doctors and every Mexican citizen that requires help. It is time to be supportive of each other.”

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
The Intelligencer, TechCrunch,
Photo by:   Unsplash
José Escobedo José Escobedo Senior Editorial Manager