New symptom tracker launched to fight COVID-19

A new smartphone app is helping track the onset and progression of COVID-19 symptoms of millions across the U.S., with the goal of shedding light on the nature of the disease, identifying those at risk sooner, pinpointing virus hot spots, and helping slow the spread of disease.

The COVID Symptom Tracker was developed by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Massachusetts General Hospital, King’s College London, and Stanford University School of Medicine, in collaboration with a health science company called ZOE.

The app asks contributors to answer a few simple questions about themselves and their current health, then to check in every day to report how they’re feeling and to list any symptoms they may be having. Healthcare professionals and cancer patients are being recruited to use the app, but anyone can take part by downloading it for free, either from the Apple App store or from the Google Play store.

“If enough Americans share daily how they feel, even if they’re well, this app can provide the healthcare system with critically valuable information,” said lead U.S. researcher Andrew Chan, professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard Chan School and a cancer epidemiologist at Mass General, in an April 6, 2020 WBUR article. “This app-based study is a way to find out where the COVID hot spots are, new symptoms to look out for, and might be used as a planning tool to target quarantines, send ventilators and provide real-time data to plan for future outbreaks.”