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Wearables data to flag potential COVID-19 onset

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A new screening app that uses biometric data collected on wearables to detect changes in health and possible coronavirus infection has been unveiled.

Life insurer and financial services provider 1Life, biotech start-up LifeQ and Samsung SA joined forces to launch the LifeQ COVID-19 app.

The launch comes as some South African provinces are already in the throes of the COVID-19 third wave, with Gauteng experiencing a greater surge than the rest of the country.

The number of detected COVID-19 infections in SA has, to date, surpassed the 1.6 million mark, with the total number of persons having succumbed to the virus now at 56 711.

As the coronavirus continued to wreak havoc on SA’s society and economy, healthcare and technology companies raced to roll out smart, connected devices.

The LifeQ COVID-19 app, currently only available to 1Life Pulse customers, uses the LifeQ-enabled Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 to derive insights from users’ biometric data, giving them an indication of changes in their health, according to a statement.

1Life says in the case of COVID-19, the app can flag potential onset in an individual entering the dangerous 48-hour period of viral shedding before symptoms are experienced.

It is not diagnostic and should not be used as an official diagnosis for COVID-19, it stresses.

“Recent studies indicate that biometric data collected on wearables can be used as early warning indicators of COVID-19. There’s a great opportunity here to empower consumers to make informed decisions using this data – helping them take precaution or seek medical assistance in good time,” says Laurence Hillman, CEO of 1Life.

“Through 1Life Pulse, which we launched last year, we’ve already made wearables and biometric data available to end-users. The next step is to provide them with the LifeQ COVID-19 screening solution, giving them peace of mind around their wellbeing and letting them know they are doing ok, but also warning them around changes detected which may signal the onset of COVID-19.”

Justin Hume, director of integrated mobility at Samsung SA, adds: “The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is designed to accurately measure users’ heart rates, skin temperature and other physiological indicators. Combined with LifeQ’s unique software and models, data from the Galaxy Watch Active 2 can be used to help spot coronavirus infections days before an individual shows any symptoms.”

Changes in physiology, detected by LifeQ, using data from the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, alerts individuals to changes and allows them to provide contextual feedback via a Web-based app. The app provides each person with a daily screening status to help guide their behaviour and interactions with others.

A green status update on the app signals that the user is doing well, there appears to be no issues and they can continue with their day-to-day normally. Yellow signals that the user should exercise caution, adjust behaviour and monitor symptoms within the next one to two days.

In the case of a red status, it signals the person is unwell since they have either reported symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test within the app.

“One of the biggest problems with COVID-19 is the period in which you have the disease and don’t know it − not knowing if you are passing it on to your loved ones or work colleagues. With this app, we are hoping to change that, and give people the information they need to be proactive and slow the rate of infection,” says Christopher Rimmer, chief commercial officer at LifeQ.

“There is no doubt that, as we move forward, we are learning more and more about COVID-19 and are identifying better ways to prevent transmission beyond social and vaccination measures,” concludes Hillman.

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