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Duke biometric wearable study for early COVID-19 detection expands with iOS launch, Fitbit and Garmin partnerships

Duke biometric wearable study for early COVID-19 detection expands with iOS launch, Fitbit and Garmin partnerships

The ‘CovIdentify’ study to track biometric data for early COVID-19 detection, being led by researchers Duke University, is expanding in the hopes of developing a comprehensive method and gather more information on community spread, according to a news release from the institution.

The project was launched in April to use wearables to collect data such as heart rate and oxygen levels, not for identifying individuals but detecting the early onset of COVID-19 symptoms.

The expanded phase includes the launch of an iOS app, and shipping of devices to target populations in underserved communities at relatively high risk of exposure to the virus. The team has also formed official partnerships with Garmin and Fitbit to make more kinds of devices available for information gathering.

“We’re seeing that underrepresented minorities are at a much greater risk of both contracting COVID-19 and developing a more severe illness, so it’s important that we explore what biometric factors may contribute to that risk,” said Ryan Shaw, one of the project’s lead researchers.

The intention of the project is to develop a way to detect the virus early enough to more effectively contain its spread to aid the long-term struggle against the outbreak. The previous phase included the launch of a website allowing participants to share information and match data collected from smartphones and wearables with answers to survey questions to assess the relationship between changes in biometric data and symptoms.

Groups targeted for recruitment by the program include delivery drivers, grocery store workers, hospital cleaning and cafeteria staff and nurse aids. The researchers are also considering how to deploy wearables for high-density residence areas, including nursing homes and college dorms, and are ramping up efforts to collect data from locations outside of the U.S.

The project was initially slated to run through 2020, but is now expected to last until the end of 2021, with an increase in support from the university.

NBA to distribute Oura rings

The National Basketball Association (NBA), meanwhile, is planning to provide Oura rings in the hopes of detecting any COVID-19 infections early, according to an internal memo seen by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The proposal includes bracelets that provide an audible warning if people are within six feet of each other, as well as the optional use of the rings to provide a constant flow of health data, which is used to generate an “illness probability score.” If the score reaches a certain level, a review will be conducted, which likely includes testing.

A study of Oura rings led by West Virginia University has suggested data collected from the wearable can enable COVID-19 detection up to three days before the onset of noticeable symptoms.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported in a Tweet that teams will not have access to player’s data on heart and respiration rate and other measurements.

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