Apple Watch Can Detect COVID-19 7 Days Before Testing

Dhir Acharya - Feb 12, 2021


Apple Watch Can Detect COVID-19 7 Days Before Testing

Researchers from Mount Sinai found that the Apple Watch could detect the start of COVID-19 up to 7 days before the testing methods in use.

When the pandemic started, many researchers carried out studies to find out if wearables could identify COVID-19 before symptoms appear. Among these attempts, researchers from Mount Sinai found that the Apple Watch could detect the start of COVID-19 up to 7 days before the testing methods in use.

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The study looked into the influence of the disease on hundreds of healthcare workers at Mount Sinai Health System from April to September 2020. All of them wore an Apple Watch and answered surveys about symptoms every day through an app. Then, the researchers observed changes in the heart rate variability of the participants, which is the changes in their heartbeat indicating their autonomic nervous system.

From this study, the subtle changes in the HRV of a person helped the research team identify and predict if that person might be infected with SARS-CoV-2 or have COVID-19 symptoms a week before they were tested.

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This is important because the virus can be contagious before any symptom starts. It’s worth noting that HRV patterns returned to normal within 7 to 14 days after diagnosis and they were not statistically different from uninfected participants. In a press release, Zahi Fayad, Ph.D., co-author of the study, said:

“This technology allows us not only to track and predict health outcomes but also to intervene in a timely and remote manner, which is essential during a pandemic that requires people to stay apart.”

The study is in line with the speculation that wearables may be useful in triaging testing and potentially identifying diseases in pre-symptomatic stages. At the same time, other researchers have considered HRV a potential metric for infection detection while others have looked at the respiratory rate as well as body temperature.

Nevertheless, while these findings are very promising and helpful for people, it remains unclear if consumers will ever see such a detecting feature on their smartwatches soon. The reason is that it will involve obtaining some degree of FDA clearance, which can take a long time.

>>> World's Second Oldest Person Miraculously Survived COVID-19

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