Fitbit study suggests it can detect COVID-19 before onset of symptoms

Fitbit says in an early research report that in some of the coronavirus cases it has been able to identify the symptoms of the disease with its fitness trackers before the wearer has become symptomatic.

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In the report, the US maker of wearables like the Versa and Charge states that breathing rate, resting heart rate and heart rate variability are useful variables in identifying early stages of the coronavirus. These are measured when the user is sleeping in order to get a picture with less ‘noise’.

Fitbit Trackers identify heart rate

The initial findings show that in almost half of the cases the virus can be identified one day before the onset of symptoms. In the most favorable cases, these figures even show that a user has the corona virus almost a week before the onset of physical complaints.

Identifying the coronavirus before the user has complaints will not help him or her as much as other healthy people. Especially the common symptom ‘coughing’ is of course a dangerous one, given the chance of spreading it. The earlier a Fitbit identifies the virus, the earlier the user can be quarantined, the less the virus will spread.

Fitbit detailed these initial findings and the report of the investigation to date has been submitted to an unnamed peer-reviewed scientific publication. Fitbit wants to write an algorithm that reliably identifies the virus before symptoms arise. The study has been running since May, with subjects from the US and Canada.