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Stanford Study: Wearable devices for early COVID-19 detection

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STANFORD, Calif. (KRON) – Scientists with Stanford University have come up with a way to help people learn early on if they might have coronavirus and they’re hoping tech can help.

These researchers believe this could be a major game-changer.

The study uses a device, like a Fitbit, to detect changes in your body and alert you that something might be wrong.

Smartwatches and other wearable devices are traditionally used to track fitness but scientists at Stanford University found they may have a higher purpose in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Years ago, Dr. Michael P. Snyder detected he had Lyme disease because his smartwatch alerted him to an unusual resting heart rate.

Now, he along with his team are using that same model for early coronavirus detection, even as far in advance as four days before any symptoms may appear.

“What’s powerful about them is they’re measuring you all the time, so when you get ill it turns out your heart rate jumps up usually for regular illness about a day and a half before symptoms appear but for COVID-19 it turns out the median time is four days before symptoms appear,” Dr. Michael P. Snyder said. 

Dr. Snyder and his team believe the current PCR test is not as helpful. They’re expensive, slow taking days after infection to reveal a reliable positive diagnosis of coronavirus plus isn’t available all the time.

They estimate 50 million Americans already own a smartwatch 24/7 — So why not use it for the study?

It may be a step in the right direction but it’s not perfect.

“I should point out it picks it up between 70-80% of the time and we think it misses in certain people because they might be on medication or have severe asthma or things like that. but for most people, it does seem to work and again on average it tends to pick it up four days before they get symptoms,” Dr. Snyder said. 

Although these gadgets can cost between $100 to $300, again Dr. Snyder believes this is still a cheaper alternative to the swab or blood tests and maybe worth an investment for your health.

You have to have worn the smartwatch for 28-days before this technique can work.

You can sign up for the study at innovations.stanford.edu.

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