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Could the Apple Watch detect COVID-19? Apple launches study to find out

Apple Watch Covid-19 study
(Image credit: Apple)

Last year, Apple announced that it was launching a study into whether the Apple Watch could detect Covid-19. And then, we heard nothing about it again. Finally, Apple has fully launched the study in partnership with the University of Washington and the Seattle Flu Study.  

Researchers at the University of Washington and Seattle Flu Study have launched a recruitment page, and if you're accepted, you will be given an Apple Watch. Researchers state on the recruitment page, "The goal of the study is to see if the information collected by the Apple Watch and iPhone can detect early signs of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. If you are eligible and decide to participate, you will be provided an Apple Watch to wear. The watch will collect information about your health and activity. You will also be asked to answer simple survey questions in the Apple Research app on your iPhone about respiratory symptoms and lifestyle on a weekly and monthly basis."

Participants in the study will be required to fill out a survey on the Apple Research app on their iPhones every week. Wear the study-provided Apple Watch throughout the study day and night and "receive free, the study provided testing for Covid-19 at the beginning of the study and for any acute respiratory illness that may occur during participation." 

The choice to focus the study in the Seattle area is due to "resident possibly having higher than normal risk of respiratory illness because of frequent exposure to other people through work or other activities, health conditions, or other factors," and should last six months. 

A previous independent study was conducted by Mount Sinai researchers that found the Apple Watch to detect Covid-19 up to a week sooner than the PCR-based nasal swab tests. These previous studies' findings should give the Apple and University of Washington research teams a solid foundation to support their findings when they become available. 

Other studies have shown that the Apple Watch's sensors can detect signs of diabetes and show early warning signs of serious heart issues such as atrial fibrillation. This reminds me, I have to replace my broken Apple Watch.