Coronavirus Update – Crowdsourced App That Can Help Predict Infections

The novel coronavirus was able to spread from China to almost every country of the planet in less than 6 months. The death toll of the highly infectious virus is increasing every day, currently at 309,000. Moreover, the number of confirmed cases in the world has crossed 4.5 million.

Every day, scientists are trying to come up with new ways to diagnose the virus, to find hotspots, to predict infections, etc. These ways have not only been expensive, but they aren’t feasible either.

One such way has been found, and it doesn’t incur any expenses.

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Coronavirus Update - Crowdsourced App That Can Help Predict Infections


A team of scientists from the US and the UK has found a crowdsourcing smartphone app that was successful in predicting coronavirus infections.

The COVID Symptom Study app gathers data about the user’s age and sex. It also records their symptoms – loss of taste or smell, persistent cough, fatigue, and loss of appetite.

By feeding this data into a mathematical model, the researchers were able to predict infections with nearly 80% accuracy amongst the 2.5 million people who used it between March 24 and April 21.

The study tracked people from three countries – the United States, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. Out of the study, nearly 15,000 self-reported the loss of taste and smell, and later tested positive for the virus.

Coronavirus Update - Crowdsourced App That Can Help Predict Infections

Dr. Tim Spector, a lead author of the study, said –

“It’s just such a weird symptom that doesn’t occur with most other diseases so it’s rarely wrong.”

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Dr. Spector is a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London.

He added –

“The more we collect this stuff and the more we document it properly, the better we can deal with new outbreaks.”

The study, titled Real-Time Tracking Of Self-Reported Symptoms To Predict Potential COVID-19, was published in the medical journal Nature Medicine.

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Rhythm Bhatia

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