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Wearables Could Detect COVID-19 Respiratory Symptoms

By José Escobedo | Wed, 04/01/2020 - 16:57

Doctors say taking preventive steps could save lives and taking action before symptoms appear is highly recommended. In times of COVID-19, taking such precautionary measures is essential. A group of scientists is currently conducting studies to see if startup’s wrist-worn wearables can tell if a patient has early COVID-19 respiratory symptoms.

The Central Queensland University Australia (CQUniversity), in association with Cleveland-based Cleveland Clinic, plans to collect information provided by WHOOP’s wrist-worn fitness and health tracking wearables. The study will test hundreds of volunteers who have allegedly contracted COVID-19. The purpose of the study is to detect changes in their respiratory behavior over time.

According to researchers, WHOOPS’s wearables are designed to track signs of distress, like shortness of breath, which could indicate modifications to respiratory rates. This has led scientists to believe these wearables could detect abnormal respiratory behavior in COVID-19 patients. WHOOP’s 3.0 hardware has been endorsed by an external study made by the University of Arizona.

“We’ve been fortunate to work with many of the best athletes in the world. What we’ve discovered has amazed us. This is truly a product that can transform your life: positive behavior change, fitness improvements and injury reduction,” says Will Ahmed, Founder and CEO of WHOOP.

Researchers at the La Jolla-based Scripps Research Translational Institute are tapping on wearable wrist data by launching a new study to detect COVID-19 and flu symptoms. The study is based on a January retrospective analysis using a similar methodology showing that sleep and resting heart rate data from Fitbits have a direct correlation with patients reporting influenza-like illness.  

“Gathering that data provides useful surveillance information to complement what’s already being done by the CDC,” said Jennifer Radin, an epidemiologist at Scripps Translational Research Institute and the study’s lead investigator. “It provides an earlier warning signal than traditional surveillance, which is often delayed by a few weeks.”

Radin hopes the data gathered will help public health officials detect outbreaks faster.

Other investigations are currently being conducted to study if wearables that monitor a user’s health and fitness can provide early COVID-19 warning signs. One study is being conducted by the University of California San Francisco using the Oura Ring. This smart ring startup plans to detect early physiological signs that might indicate the start of COVID-19 symptoms.


The data used in this article was sourced from:  
MedCityNews, The Lancet Digital Health, TechCrunch,, Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Photo by:   PIxabay
José Escobedo José Escobedo Senior Editorial Manager