The app that distinguishes six different forms of Covid-19


  • Using a phone app, British researchers have successfully identified six groups of patients with Covid-19.
  • Depending on the symptoms and their severity, it is possible to determine future forms of the disease on the patient.
  • If the system manages to become widespread, this will allow health establishments to anticipate future epidemic peaks, and to better manage the availability of beds, artificial respirators, services and staff.

We are no longer talking about Covid-19, but rather about Covid-19. This is suggested by the innovation developed by King’s College London (United Kingdom), Covid Symptom Study, in partnership with the company Zoe. This phone application available in the United Kingdom, the United States and Sweden, has enabled researchers to discover the existence of several “families” of Covid-19 in different epidemic centers. The results of their research were published online on the server MedRxiv.

The same Covid but different manifestations

For this study, UK researchers used data from 1,653 people using the app. Each of them had persistent symptoms of Covid-19 and regularly kept the application informed of the evolution of their pathology, from the appearance of the first signs until recovery. Of these 1,653 patients, 383 reported having visited the hospital at least once and 107 reported needing respiratory assistance.

Looking more closely at the results, it appeared that a patient-level recurrence allowed six categories to be made for the disease, separated by the duration and severity of symptoms.
– First group: have mild symptoms of Covid-19, chest pain, require respiratory assistance.
– Second group: have mild symptoms of Covid-19, no chest pain, may have a fever.
– Third group: have gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea), do not necessarily require respiratory assistance.
– Fourth group: have severe symptoms of Covid-19, require respiratory assistance, severe fatigue, continuous chest pain and persistent cough.
– Fifth group: have severe symptoms of Covid-19 and require respiratory assistance, severe fatigue, state of confusion and lack of appetite.
– Sixth group: present gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea), severe symptoms of Covid-19 and require respiratory assistance, respiratory distress, rapid shortness of breath and chest pain.

Categorization of patients into a group can only be done after monitoring for two to nine days. Thanks to this classification, it is now easier for researchers to predict which group participants will land in, based on the information they enter in the application. Thus, it will be easier to set up appropriate monitoring for each patient even before these symptoms worsen. With the abundance of data that the app provides access to, projection errors are minimal, with an accuracy rate of 84.9%.

Data entry still room for improvement

The researchers nevertheless recognize that the scope of their work is limited to the goodwill of users. Thus, all the data entered cannot be considered to be necessarily good, and they can sometimes lack data, if the person is in a state too weak to use his phone for example.

If this app were more widely used, the researchers believe it could give healthcare services a huge advantage. It would thus be possible to anticipate the occurrence of an epidemic peak in order to be able to better plan the needs of a hospital in terms of staff, available beds, respiratory assistance or intensive care. With finer care, it would be easier for healthcare establishments to properly manage patients with severe disease.


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