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Results from Fitbit's COVID-19 study suggest that fluctuations in key metrics, such as heart rate and respiration, occur days before symptoms, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
CEO James Park said the company is working toward a system where flagged users could be instructed to quarantine and then, if symptoms appear, confirm with a test, but the system, which could have green, orange and red warning levels, might need regulatory approval before appearing in the Fitbit app.
Eric Topol, executive vice president at Scripps Research, noted that "in the months ahead people will have at their home a testing kit that will give us an answer in 15 minutes, and hopefully people will be using wearables," adding that "you wouldn’t do the test unless your sensors were coming together to tell you something is going on."
Michael Snyder, who is running a study at Stanford University looking at data from Fitbits, Apple Watches, Garmins and more, said there is early evidence that those who have COVID-19 can have an elevated resting heart rate about three days before symptoms.
The University of California, San Francisco is running a similar study using the Oura ring, and once the research is completed, Oura Health CEO Harpreet Singh Rai said the company will consider giving users a notification if it detects potential signs of illness.
Meanwhile, Topol expects more wearables to get blood-oxygen monitoring this year, and while Fitbit already has such a sensor on some of its devices but it does not offer a full read out, but Park said the company is working to enable it.
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