With the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, a lot of effort has been put into early detection as a way of mitigating the spread of the virus. To this end, a Stanford University Research team is conducting a study on various fitness devices to see if they can detect COVID-19 before the symptoms appear. The team has enrolled 5,000 users and is testing various devices, such as Fitbit and Apple Watch.
The results of the study are promising. According to Michael Snyder, head of the Stanford University School of Medicine’s Genomics and Personalized Medicine Department, “in about 80% of the cases we see, heart rate goes up when someone gets ill.” And this happens 70% of the time before the person becomes symptomatic. In some cases, they have noticed a heart rate elevation 9 1/2 days before the person started exhibiting symptoms, with a medium time of 3 days.
Another study yielding promising results is being conducted by Fitbit. With 100,000 people enrolled in the U.S. and Canada, including 900 diagnosed with the virus, the Fitbit research team has detected changes in breathing rates and heart rates among the infected.
Other universities are also conducting studies of the Oura ring, produced by Oura Health, which is being used by the National Basketball League. The NBA has purchased 2,000 devices to be worn by players and staff to monitor their heart rate and temperature.
Fitness wearable companies see this as an opportunity to market their devices as more than just healthy lifestyle devices but also as health monitoring devices.