TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - In an age of technology, it’s now possible to track the body’s every move and possibly the movement of COVID-19, according to recent findings from WHOOP.
WHOOP is a wrist-worn heart rate monitor that tracks recovery and respiratory rate to help wearers know how to best care for their bodies.
With an increased interest in health since the spread of COVID-19, WHOOP partnered with researchers — from leading health organizations and universities including Harvard Medical School, Brigham Health, and CQUniversity — to investigate and track COVID-19 symptoms.
WHOOP conducted a study to determine if changes in respiratory rate could detect COVID-19.
A total of 271 people who experienced symptoms consistent with COVID-19 were included in the study and gave permission for their WHOOP data to be used. A model was developed to estimate the probability of SARS-CoV-2 infection based on changes in respiratory rate during night-time sleep.
Findings showed that the algorithm could distinguish between healthy individuals and infected individuals before the onset of COVID-19 symptoms.
That finding suggested that WHOOP and respiratory rate could be used as an early detection tool to determine who should self-isolate and seek testing. In 20 percent of cases, there was a correlation two days prior to the onset of symptoms.
Dr. Nathan Price, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Banner University Medical Center - Tucson works with infectious diseases in children. He said most children with COVID-19 tend to be asymptomatic or show mild symptoms if any, but that it’s not uncommon to use respiratory rate as an indicator of infection in the medical field.
Dr. Price said one thing that tips them off that a patient might have a deep lung infection is a high respiratory rate, which in some cases can mean infection.
Not having read the study, but in discussing the principles, he said it is something interesting but hard to know what it means because of false alarms. One downside of this method is there can be many things that cause variability in respiratory rate, but acknowledged it could be useful for early warning symptoms.
He warned against the risk of a false alarm — in thinking something is a problem when it may not be.
WHOOP recently added a COVID-19 tracking option for users to report symptoms of infection. The company acknowledged their product is not a medical device to be used for diagnosis but hopes it can be used to demonstrate the power of monitoring health and possible early detection of the virus.
“There is still more work to be done—the data we’ve been able to collect so far has been limited to symptomatic cases, so follow up research is required to understand if respiratory rate monitoring can aid in the detection of fully asymptomatic cases,” WHOOP stated on its website.