Covid-19 symptom app showing cases in Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and East Northants could help "ease us out of lockdown"

The app could help avoid a second wave of infection

By Phoebe Radford
Wednesday, 3rd June 2020, 7:00 am

The Covid Symptom Study app being used by thousands of residents in north Northants is going to be part of a clinical trial to improve the diagnosis of coronavirus, it announced yesterday (Tuesday).

There are currently 5,264 people in Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough and East Northants using the Covid Symptom Study app and they could potentially help to create a digital diagnosis tool.

All adults reporting to the app will be asked if they want to participate in the research.

The Covid symptom tracker app has been helping vital research and could now help diagnose new cases

Jonathan Wolf, CEO of ZOE, a health science company, said: "We are incredibly excited to be helping enable the first digital diagnosis coming out of the COVID Symptom Study.

"If proven, we think there is huge potential to help ease us out of lockdown without a second wave of infection. With ten thousand new cases per day in the UK, we need this sort of diagnosis at scale if we are to get track and trace to work in the UK.”

It was developed by scientists to help learn about coronavirus, its symptoms and how far and fast it was spreading and gathers data by asking users to report how they are feeling every day.

According to the app, there has been a fall in the rate of symptomatic Covid-19 cases across the north of the county.

Last week, 1.2 per cent of people in Corby were estimated to have symptomatic coronavirus. That has fallen to 0.7 per cent this week.

Similarly, the app has reported a fall in symptomatic cases in Wellingborough from 1 per cent to 0.9 percent, and in East Northants where it fell from 1.1 per cent to 0.7 per cent.

The rate of symptomatic cases in Kettering remained the same at 0.8 per cent.

Now the app is taking part in a clinical trial to see if the Artificial Intelligence tool has learnt enough from all the information reported by users to be able to diagnose Covid-19.

The Covid Symptom Study website said: "King’s College London is commencing a clinical trial to validate the machine learning models built from millions of people’s contribution to the COVID Symptom Study app.

"This Artificial Intelligence tool is intended to diagnose infection with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) based on self reported symptoms."

The app has already successfully helped scientists to confirm that loss of taste and smell is a symptom of coronavirus, thanks to people reporting to the study.

The trial will work by asking some app users who become unwell to get tested. They will continue logging their symptoms and to report their test results.

Test results will be compared with the AI's predictions.

Professor Tim Spector, from King's College London, said: "We are really excited to be launching this clinical trial at King’s College London. It’s incredibly important for us to validate the algorithm.

"By doing so we are a step closer to creating a highly accurate tool that will be able to tell people whether or not they have COVID without them needing to wait for a test.

"People will be able to make decisions about things like self isolation based on this data and means we will be able to slow the spread of the deadly virus."

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