Apple Watch could be used to predict positive Covid-19 test

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That is the view of the ‘Warrior Watch Study’, a new piece of medical research that looks at the role wearables can play in detecting coronavirus. Mount Sinai researchers found that wearables (specifically the Apple Watch) can diagnose Covid-19 a week before a nasal swab is able to register a positive test.

The study, which was reported on by TechCrunch, enlisted the help of “several hundred” healthcare workers with data collected over a period of several months – from April to September.

Those who participated had to use an Apple Watch and an iPhone app to monitor and collect health data.

Those involved also had to fill out daily surveys so there was feedback about potential Covid-19 symptoms and other factors such as stress.

The main metric that researchers looked at was heart rate variability (HRV), which acts as a key indicator of strain on the nervous system.

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This data was used in conjunction with information about other Covid-19 symptoms such as loss of taste and smell, fever, aches, dry cough and gastrointestinal issues.

Besides being able to detect Covid-19 a week before tests were able to provide a positive result, the study also found those involved in the research saw their HRV patterns normalise around one to two weeks after diagnosis.

In terms of the practical applications of these findings, researchers said this would help to isolate individuals that are at risk early.

And it would also allow for Covid-19 detection to be done remotely, which would help protect any other person who would be enlisted to help provide a swap test in person.

It could also allow for precautionary measures to be taken, which could help prevent the spread of Covid in high risk cases.

The study is currently ongoing, with researchers looking at other ways devices such as the Apple Watch can help monitor the health of healthcare workers who are crucial to the fight against Covid.

In other news, Apple are themselves also looking at ways blood oxygen and heart rate can be used to detect the early onset of Covid-19 and the flu.

Apple has partnered with the Seattle Flu Study and faculty at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine to explore this.

This partnership was announced at last September’s Time Flies event, which saw the Apple Watch Series 6 – which is capable of blood oxygen monitoring – announced.

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