Created in just three days, the free monitoring app was developed through a partnership between researchers at King’s and a health data science company. ZOEled by Dr Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at Kings College London and Director of the TwinsUK Study.
The aim of the app is to monitor the progression of the disease in real time to help slow the epidemic and identify: the speed at which the virus is spreading in your region, high risk areas of the country and who is most at risk, by better understanding the symptoms related to the underlying health problems.
The app was released to the general public on March 24 and has been installed at a rate of 50,000 times per hour, with the total number of downloads now exceeding 1 million. Then the scientists will publish their data to the NHS, data modellers and researchers.
Researchers believe the study data will reveal important information about the symptoms and progression of COVID-19 infection in different people, and why some continue to develop more serious or fatal illness while others do not. have mild symptoms.
They also say it will help the urgent clinical need to distinguish mild symptoms of the coronavirus from seasonal coughs and colds, which can cause people to unnecessarily self-isolate when not infected or inadvertently go outside and go outside. spread disease when they are.
Professor Tim Spector said: “These are worrying times for everyone. Our twins are incredibly engaged and enthusiastic health research participants who have already been studied in unprecedented detail, placing us in a unique position to provide vital answers to support the global fight against COVID-19.
“The more the public also uses the app, the better the real-time data we will need to fight the epidemic in this country.”
Initially, around 5,000 twins and their families were initially recruited into the TwinsUK Cohort Study to test the application. Users recorded information about their health daily. All participants with signs of COVID-19 were given a home test kit to better understand which symptoms really correspond to the coronavirus infection. The home test component is not accessible to the general public.
Comparing genetically identical twins with non-identical twins, who are as related as regular siblings, allows researchers to separate the effects of genes from environmental factors such as diet, lifestyle, disease and infection. and the microbiome.
Samples taken from the twin group will be used to generate a biobank for use in future research projects on infections and immune responses.
The TwinsUK COVID-19 research study is funded by King’s College London, ZOE Global Ltd, the CDRF charity, and the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Center at the National Institute of Health Research. All data collected from the app and the study will be used strictly for public health or academic research purposes, and will not be used commercially or sold.
TwinsUK is a scientific study of 15,000 identical and non-identical twins, which has spanned almost three decades. Most have already participated in a comprehensive genetic analysis and immune profiling, as well as detailed profiling of the gut microbiome.