Apple Watch detects Corona: researchers discover infection detection capabilities

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Researchers have put the Apple Watch under the microscope for fighting the pandemic. Tests have now shown that the Apple Watch can even detect infections.

In the fight against the pandemic, many options are being resorted to. The Corona warning app for contact detection or even a (not very accurate!) Corona self-test on the net are just a few things. Also, different tests are now available. But what if a smartwatch on the arm detected an infection long before a test? Researchers have put the Apple Watch under the microscope for this.

As CBS News reports, researchers at the Mount Sinai Health System and Stanford University have managed to detect suspicious irregularities between an infected person’s heartbeats, which can also be found by an Apple Watch. As a result, the researchers managed to achieve a hit rate of around 67 percent, mostly up to seven days before the first signs of symptoms.

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Difference between HRV and heart rate

The virus causes changes in the heartbeat, or more precisely the so-called heart rate variability (HRV), shortly after the infections. This describes the natural variation of the time between two consecutive heartbeats and also regulates the adaptation of the heart rate to different conditions. A high HRV usually indicates a healthy and efficient body.

When the virus does its work in the body, HRV slows down in a certain way, according to the researchers, and it does so many days before the first visible symptoms appear. A process that the Apple Watch can apparently detect, as the researchers indicate.

Apps for early warning or detection would be possible

While the phenomenon needs further study and the hit rate is not yet perfect, such detection could become another building block in the fight against the pandemic. Of course, this applies not only to the Apple Watch, but also to a variety of fitness trackers or smartwatches from other manufacturers that can measure heart rate.

This could lead to the development of apps that could provide early warnings of infection and thus make recommendations for further testing. However, the research is still at an early stage, but the results are already astonishing.

 

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