As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe, it is important that one tries to avoid overwhelming the already stressed health system. There are many ways you can do this including self-reporting your symptoms so that medical teams know where their resources are needed more urgently. If you live in the U.K., you can do this by using the C-19 COVID Symptom tracker app.
The app has been developed by a startup called Zoe in partnership with researchers at Kings College Hospital in London. This is not an app that will help you diagnose whether you have COVID-19 or not. Instead, it is a research app that is aimed at providing medical professionals and doctors with as much information as possible. For example, if a bunch of people from a particular region starts showing COVID-19 symptoms, it would help the medical professionals to divert their limited resources and supply kits to those regions.
“We were actively speaking to a multitude of companies that are making or have testing kits, and originally the idea was that if we identified people who were expressing symptoms, maybe we could get a testing kit to them faster,” said Sara Gordon, a spokesperson for the company. That proved to be too difficult, she added, because the testing arena is very fragmented and so it’s not clear whether they all reliably and consistently work the same (and work well).
After the initial hurdle, the startup focused its attention on providing support to the U.K.’s National Health Service, the NHS.
Since this is a self-reporting app, it relies on the public to honestly report their symptoms. Due to the pandemic, many people are likely going to panic and report even a regular cough and cold as COVID-19 symptoms. For the data to be useful, the public is required to report their status every day as well. It is the data that is collected over consecutive days that will be helpful to medical professionals and researchers. The data will help researchers understand and discover the high-risk areas in the UK, identify the age group and people who are most at risk, and the rate of spread of the virus.
Since the app launched earlier this week on Tuesday in the UK, it has gone viral and been downloaded over 750K times from the App Store. The startup is already working on bringing its app to the US and it should launch later today (March 26th).