According to a new study conducted by Mount Sinai researchers, the Apple watch can effectively predict a positive COVID-19 diagnosis up to a week before current PCR-based nasal swab tests.
The study was recently published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research under the title ‘Warrior Watch Study’. The researchers tracked and collected health data for several hundred Mount Sinai healthcare workers using a dedicated Apple Watch and iPhone app. The participants were required to fill every day over several months providing direct feedback about potential coronavirus symptoms and other factors, including stress.
The data collection duration was spread across several months from April to September. The main focus of the study was heart rate variability (HRV) which is a key indicator of strain on the nervous system. This data was then combined with reported symptoms associated with the disease, such as fever, aches, dry cough, and loss of taste and smell.
The Warrior Watch Study was not only able to predict infections up to a week before tests provided confirmed diagnoses but also revealed that participants’ HRV patterns normalized fairly quickly after their diagnosis, returning to normal roughly one to two weeks following their positive tests.
The team hopes that the results will help in anticipating the outcomes and remotely isolating individuals from others who are at risk, without having to perform a physical exam or administer a swab test, preventing potential spread before someone is highly contagious. The study will be further expanded to other wearables as well.