KEY POINTS

  • Apple Watch can reveal early symptoms of COVID 19
  • HRV curves recorded on Apple Watch helps reveal early signs of coronavirus infection
  • Early detection of coronavirus provides ample spread prevention

Apple Watch is capable of predicting a positive COVID 19 result, up to a week before the nasal swab test, a recent study has said.

Mount Sinai recently conducted a study that proved how an Apple Watch could predict the onset of coronavirus prior to molecular diagnosis. According to the study, the smartwatch can effectively forecast if the wearer will test positive of COVID 19 up to one week before the PCR-based nasal swab test.

Researches named the project “Warrior Watch Study” and published in the peer-reviewed “Journal of Medical Internet Research.” The investigation involved hundreds of Mount Sinai healthcare workers. 
Each of the participants used a dedicated Apple Watch Series 4 or higher and were asked to wear them for at least eight hours per day.  They were also asked to use the iPhone Series 6 or higher to monitor and collect their health data. 

From April 20 to Sept. 29, 2020, the participants had to answer a daily survey to provide details on the presence of the potential coronavirus symptoms. The survey also provided feedback about other factors such as exposure due to patient care and diagnostic test results.

The researchers mainly focused on the key indicator of the strain of the coronavirus. They did close monitoring on the participants’ heart rate variability (HRV) using Apple Watch’s onboard photoplethysmogram (PPG) optical heart sensor.

Upon completion of the daily survey, researchers would transfer the readings to the study app to analyze any change in HRV curves. They then determined if there were any associations with the collected data and the COVID 19 symptoms and diagnosis. 

“The Warrior Watch Study was not only able to predict infections up to a week before tests provided confirmed diagnoses, but also revealed that participants' HRV patterns normalized fairly quickly after their diagnosis, returning to normal roughly one to two weeks following their positive tests,” the study revealed.

Mount Sinai’s study is just one of the several efforts from various institutions to help characterize COVID 19 using a wearable. Meanwhile, scientists at Scripps Research Translational Institute aims to help combat the disease by spotting its early warning signs. 

"While further study is needed, this may allow for the identification of SARS-CoV-2 infection during the pre-symptomatic period, in asymptomatic carriers and prior to diagnosis by SARS-CoV-2 nasal PCR tests," the research added.

Apple_delivers-apple-watch-series-6_09152020 The new Apple Watch Series 6 with Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop. Photo: Apple