- Germany is looking to analyze data from smartwatches and fitness equipment to track the emergence of new coronavirus epidemics in the country.
- Pulse, temperature and sleep data would be collected anonymously from participating citizens to map the potential spread of new COVID-19 hot spots in the future.
- Germany has carried out extensive tests on coronaviruses, which has enabled it to monitor the death toll compared to other European countries and the United States. New filtering measures may be necessary to make social distancing measures more flexible.
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With more than 103,000 cases as of Tuesday morning, Germany has the fourth highest number of COVID-19 files in the world after the United States, Spain and Italy. But Germany’s management of the new coronavirus outbreak is notable for the low number of deaths compared to other regions. Almost 1,900 deaths from COVID-19 in Germany at the time of writing, place the country tenth among coronavirus deaths.
The explanation for Germany’s success in keeping the death rate low is due to extensive testing combined with extreme measures of social distancing. Implemented early, test protocols have allowed Germany to catch coronavirus patients sooner than others. As a result, COVID-19 patients were isolated and treated earlier than those in other countries. The extensive testing campaign also explains why the total number of cases in Germany has risen to over 100,000 in about a month.
Germany, however, does not stop with its numerous attempts to screen for COVID-19, as the country has launched a program that allows the collection of relevant data on coronaviruses using portable devices such as the Apple Watch .
The aim of the study is to collect a large number of health parameters from voluntary participants in order to catch signs of new COVID-19 outbreaks as they occur. This type of screening can play an important role once restrictions on social removal are lifted.
The app is available on watchOS, Wear OS and other devices compatible with the App Store and Google Play. The app will collect multiple data points from smart watches and fitness trackers, including pulse, temperature and sleep data. Smart watches can’t measure a person’s temperature, but users can enter this data manually in health apps – here’s a quick way to monitor your fever on the iPhone, by the way.
Changes in temperature and sleep can indicate the presence of illness. The most common COVID-19 symptoms are fever, fatigue, shortness of breath, and a dry cough. Access to multiple data points for multiple regions of Germany could provide valuable data to epidemiologists seeking to contain future epidemics. The results will then be represented on an interactive map, Reuters Explain. Authorities may assess the risk of further outbreaks.
“If the sample is large enough to capture enough symptomatic patients, this would help us draw conclusions about how the infections spread and whether the containment measures work,” said Lothar Wieler, director of the Robert Institute Koch. The Institute coordinates the coronavirus response in Germany.
The Corona Data Donation application, developed by the German startup Thryve, will not collect any personally identifiable data. Users will need to register their zip code, age, gender, height and weight before the trackers start monitoring health parameters.