Help researchers learn about impact of Covid-19 with app

People with heart and circulatory diseases who may be more at risk during the pandemic can contribute to the fight against Covid-19 by sharing how they feel on an app.

Developed by researchers at King’s College London and healthcare science company ZOE, the free Covid Symptom Tracker app is already being used by 2.3million members of the public across the UK and US and is accelerating scientific understanding of the disease.

In addition to advancing research and our understanding of the disease on a daily basis, the app is also being used by the Government and the NHS to help guide them in planning resources, such as ventilators. The data also helps to provide a better understanding of how the lockdown is impacting the curve of disease cases.

The COVID Symptom Tracker app is free to download, and asks people to spend one minute every day to report how they are feeling. It first asks users for some information about themselves. This includes questions on existing medical conditions, such as heart disease and stroke, risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes, and if they take any prescribed drugs.

With the discovery that those who have pre-existing health conditions may be more at risk, the app’s researchers now want to reach even more people with existing medical conditions, including heart and circulatory diseases, to determine the impact of the virus on people with these conditions. The app has been endorsed by many regions including NHS Wales and NHS Scotland.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, our Medical Director, said: “Information to date suggests that people with heart and circulatory diseases are at higher risk of complications caused by the novel coronavirus. We need to better understand why this may be the case and how severely they are affected.

“Collecting real world data from as many people as possible will help us understand this. It will also provide accurate information which can be used to plan how we emerge from the pandemic.”

“We urge all our supporters and their families to download the app today, even if you are feeling healthy. In doing so, you’ll be contributing to the fight against the coronavirus.”

Lead researcher Professor Tim Spector from King’s College London said: “In order to help fight this virus it is essential that we understand how factors such as diabetes and particular medications affect the response to the virus. That’s why we need more people with existing medical conditions to use the app.

“So, we urge people to download the app and check in every day, whether you are experiencing any symptoms or feeling fine. If everyone uses the app the data works as an early warning device for the NHS, flagging up potential new hotspots and helping the NHS and other service plan accordingly.”

“We would also like to take this opportunity to thank every single person who is already participating. The data they have provided combined with our research has been invaluable in understanding and fighting COVID-19 thus far.”

The app is available to download from the Apple App Store and Google Play here. Daily symptom maps and other content are also available on the app’s website.

Published on the BHF website on 14th April 2020