Using Technology to Identify COVID-19

Angie SzumlinskiHealth, News, Studies

As with all science, new and old, there are flaws; there is no perfect science. While we navigate through the science of the COVID-19 pandemic, many new and exciting ideas are emerging. Of course, researching these ideas takes time, sometimes many years and we really don’t have that much time. Fortunately, breakthroughs happen every day. A few innovative technologies arising from the pandemic were recently discussed on a webinar hosted by Medscape Nurses, Medicine and the Machine. Here are a few excerpts from the webinar that may pique your interest!

Current testing practices:

  • The world is struggling with testing. We know that the tests have issues. One major issue is the false negatives with the virus antigen test
  • There are also logistical issues of doing them at the national scale needed
  • Home testing is at least a few months away, and the expense can be limiting

Temperature Checks

  • Most work and social environments are requiring temperature checks to enter
  • Multiple prospective studies about fever and COVID-19 have found that large numbers of positive individuals don’t have a fever
  • In a publication in Nature Medicine, it was found that only about 30% of positive individuals had a fever, and another study published in Color Genomics found the rate was 12%
  • 30-40% of patients with COVID-19 are asymptomatic
  • People who are “pre-symptomatic” shed the virus and are at least as infectious, if not more, as those with symptoms

Science and Technology

  • The COVID-19 genome was identified within weeks
  • 80% of transmission comes from 20% of the cases (Pareto rule)
  • DETECT – a smartwatch style technology being used in a study on about 38,000 participants
  • The first 30,000 people saw a signal correlating not just with symptoms but positive tests based on catching an increase in resting heart rate, more sleep, and fewer steps
  • Germany has a similar product and has over 500,000 citizens using it
  • China now has 1.3 million people using a similar app

Asymptomatic Patients

  • A study done on the Diamond Princess ship and Korea is striking in that more than half of the asymptomatic patients have lung abnormalities, ground glass opacity and consolidations that are the same as in symptomatic patients
  • During the pre-symptomatic phase, the resting heart rate goes up before any fever manifests and a lot of people never have a fever

Some Positives

  • There will most likely be a vaccine by early next year, and it will most likely require yearly injections
  • We will need to vaccinate 70-80% of the population to begin to get artificial herd immunity
  • The virus does not evolve quickly
  • Mutations are minor as best as we can tell and slow to mutate
  • The structure of the virus is quite amenable to a vaccine

At the end of the day, we are learning a lot about the virus but are still months or years away from truly understanding it. The goal, for now, is to maintain appropriate infection control practices, social distancing, masking, and appropriate use of PPE. Stay safe, stay well, and stay tuned!

To listen to the entire webcast, click here.