COVID-19: Could This New Zealand-made App Detect if a User has Coronavirus Before Symptoms Occur?

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A new COVID-19 app made in New Zealand was just recently released around the world and is already deemed as a “game-changing” app as it may be able to detect coronavirus infection before the symptoms show. 

According to a report by the New Zealand Herald, the app is called the ëlarm and is developed by a New Zealand company known as Datamine.

Datamine founder Paul O’Connor said that the company’s aim in creating the app is to overcome one of the biggest hurdles of fighting the unseen enemy: the spread of the coronavirus through asymptomatic people or those who don’t know that they are infected.

“Covid-19 puts a viral load on the body three or four days before any external symptoms kick in, which means the body is in distress before you know it,” O’Connor explained.

“Unknowingly, a person could be infecting their vulnerable loved ones, and many others they come into contact with.”

Act leader David Seymour is planning to push for Government support next week in the Parliament for the app and said, “It’s an absolute game-changer and totally unexpected. This is something the Government should have been supporting since day one.”

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So, how does ëlarm work?

According to the news outlet, the app will work with any wearable device such as an Apple Watch or a FitBit.

Through the device, the app will then gather data and track the wearer’s body temperature, heart rate, active heart rate, recover rates, heart rate variability, and oxygen saturation, which are several indicators of coronavirus infection.

The app will then record any changes that may occur and will compare it to the clinically developed models for the early stages of the viral infection.

Once the ëlarm app records changes that coincide with the early symptoms of COVID-19, it will alert the user and will recommend other health checks following the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines.

Nevertheless, the app is not capable of advising treatment as of now.

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According to research conducted by Datamine, wearable devices can predict whether a user has COVID-19 three days before the symptoms of breathing difficulties, fever, and fatigue develop with over 90% accuracy.

Furthermore, O’Connor said their company has been working with different health experts from New Zealand, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada to build the models that ëlarm is using to analyze the changes in a person’s health data.

Michael Baker, an epidemiologist from the University of Otago Wellington’s Department of Public Health, supports the app and even said that it has great potential and could be beneficial not just in the fight against the coronavirus infection, but also with other infectious diseases as well.

Nevertheless, the app is still in its early days and hasn’t undergone field testing yet to see how well it works.

However, NZ has beaten the virus, so Baker said other countries with developing COVID-19 cases would benefit most from the new app.

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