Wednesday 25 March 2020 9:48 am

Researchers launch Covid-19 symptom tracker in the UK

A symptom tracker app that has been designed to identify the spread of coronavirus has been launched in the UK.

The Covid Symptom Tracker asks users to fill in data including age, sex and postcode as well as questions on existing medical conditions. 

Read more: Coronavirus may have infected half of UK population, according to experts

The app is a collaboration between researchers at King’s College London, health data science company Zoe – itself a spin-out from King’s – and Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals. 

It asks participants to take a minute a day to self-report even if they are healthy. The aim is to help researchers identify how fast the virus is spreading, the high-risk areas in the country, and who is most at risk by better understanding symptoms linked to underlying health conditions. 

While the symptom tracker app is available to the general public, around 5,000 twins and their families across the UK have been recruited to trial the app, which tracks in real-time how Covid-19 progresses. 

King’s College said it had picked twins for the study as it will enable researchers to separate the effects of genes from environmental factors. Should the participants show symptoms of coronavirus, they will be sent a kit so they can be tested for the disease.

It comes after the official death toll in the UK jumped a record 87 in one day to 422, and confirmed cases passed 8,000.

Read more: Over 170,000 join NHS volunteer force to fight coronavirus

Professor Tim Spector, who is leading the project, said: “These are worrying times for everyone. Our twins are fantastically committed, enthusiastic health research participants who have already been studied in unprecedented detail, putting us in a unique position to provide vital answers to support the global fight against Covid-19.”

“The more of the public that also use the app, the better the real-time data we will have to combat the outbreak in this country.”