The UK-based Covid Symptom Tracker app aims to help researchers track the spread of coronavirus, and understand who is most at risk

An app that is designed to track the spread of coronavirus has been launched in the UK. Available to anyone with a smartphone, the Covid Symptom Tracker app, designed by a team at King’s College London, allows users to self-report daily – even if they are healthy. Scientists say the technology will help them to identify in real-time how fast the virus is spreading and which areas are becoming coronavirus hotspots.

Around 5,000 twins taking part in an existing study at King’s have been recruited to trial the new app. The twins will be asked to record information about their health on a daily basis, including temperature, tiredness and symptoms such as coughing, breathing problems or headaches.

Participants showing signs of Covid-19 will be sent a home testing kit to better understand what symptoms truly correspond to the coronavirus.

King’s says that comparing genetically identical twins with non-identical twins, who are biologically no more related than regular siblings, will enable researchers to separate the effects of genes from environmental factors such as diet, lifestyle, previous illnesses and infections, and microbes living within the gut.

The more of the public that also use the app, the better the real-time data we will have to combat the outbreak in this country

Researchers believe the trial will reveal important information about the symptoms and progress of Covid-19 in different people, and help shed light on why some go on to develop more severe or fatal disease while others have only mild symptoms.

“Our twins are fantastically committed, enthusiastic health research participants who have already been studied in unprecedented detail, putting us in a unique position to provide vital answers to support the global fight against Covid-19,” said Prof Tim Spector, who leads the study. “The more of the public that also use the app, the better the real-time data we will have to combat the outbreak in this country.”

To find out more, visit https://covid.joinzoe.com

A visualisation of the new coronavirus. Image: Fusion Medical Animation

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