New app suggests 1.9 million in UK 'could have symptomatic coronavirus'

4 April 2020, 00:06

File photo: The app, which is also being used by healthcare and hospital workers nationwide, allows contributors to track their daily health
File photo: The app, which is also being used by healthcare and hospital workers nationwide, allows contributors to track their daily health. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Data gathered by a new specially-designed symptom tracking app suggests there are currently 1.9 million people aged 20-69 in the UK who have symptomatic Covid-19.

The app, which is also being used by healthcare and hospital workers nationwide, allows contributors to track their daily health.

According to researchers, the preliminary data shows wide variation across the UK, with hotspots of the disease including major cities like London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, and Belfast.

But it also highlights problems in rural areas of South Wales, which are currently experiencing bed shortages following an influx of patients.

It is hoped that this information can support the effective deployment of limited NHS resources such as healthcare personnel, testing kits or ventilators to where they are most likely to be needed.

38,168 people have now tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, with the death toll now at 3,605.

The app has been developed by a King's College London team in association with the Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and healthcare start-up ZOE Global Limited.

As of April 1 2020 there were 1,626,355 users of the Covid Symptom Tracker aged 20-69 who had recorded their symptoms, healthy or not.

Statistical models created by the researchers estimate that 79,405 of these users would be positive if tested (4.9%) - though the data will become more accurate and sophisticated as more contributors share symptoms.

That figure was then extrapolated to the whole UK population, based on region, age and gender proportions, to calculate a total UK estimate.

Lead researcher Professor Tim Spector from King's College London, said: "Accurate real-time data is essential if we are to beat this disease.

"What we are sharing today are just preliminary results from the two million people who are tracking their symptoms daily.

"The more people we can get logging their symptoms on the app, the quicker we will be able to really understand this disease - it is clear levels of infection are very different around the country.

"We would like to thank every single person who is already participating, and would urge everyone else to download the app and check in every day, whether you are experiencing any symptoms or feeling fine."

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