King’s Covid-19 app hits 2.5 million users and climbing

“It takes one minute a day for people to become part of the world’s largest stay at home science experiment and help the UK fight this virus”

King’s Covid-19 app has now reached 2.5 million users and is adding tens of thousands more every day.

On 24 March, King’s launched an app that allows members of the public to help in the fight against Covid-19 by taking one minute a day to self-report on their health, whether they are healthy or have symptoms.

The app, which was downloaded 750,000 times in the first three days after its release, has now reached 2.5 million users.

The app gives researchers unique insight into the spread of Covid-19 in the UK, helping to provide the data needed to combat the disease, including identifying high-risk areas in the UK, how fast the virus is spreading, and who is most at risk by better understanding the course of the disease in people with underlying health conditions.

For example, by analysing the health information submitted through the app, researchers have discovered “loss of smell or taste is common and an even stronger predictor of being tested positive for COVID-19 than fever.”

Lead researcher Professor Tim Spector, from King’s College London said, “We are learning something new each day, all of which is being shared directly with the NHS and health planners.”

On 20 April, according to symptoms reported using the app, 462,672 people aged 20-69 had symptomatic COVID-19 in the UK.

This number is much higher than the official government figures, which reached 124,743 on the same day.

Some of this difference may be due to people becoming ill with very similar symptoms to Covid-19, but the King’s data may also be a more accurate figure given the limits on testing capacity in the UK.

UK health experts will only find out the answers to exactly how many people became ill with Covid-19 once a reliable antibody test, which shows whether someone has already had the virus, is rolled out.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said that 15 different antibody tests had been tested, but none were reliable enough.

Although the numbers of symptomatic cases are still high, according to data provided through the app, cases have fallen by 71 per cent from 1 to 15 April.

Professor Tim Spector said, “What the data tell us is that there is still a large number of infectious people in the UK with mild symptoms, so to quickly lift the lockdown would not be appropriate.”

Spector added the government should use all the information at its disposal to “prevent avoidable errors when the lift [of lockdown restrictions] does happen.”

He explained the app data could be used to help guide when the lockdown restrictions are lifted, saying they are “working closely” with NHS Wales and NHS Scotland to “explore how the app can be used to speed up and guide the lockdown lift.

“It can work as an early alert, before hospital testing, flagging up any particular spikes in new symptom cases.”

Spector added he 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.

“It takes […] one minute a day for people to become part of the world’s largest stay at home science experiment and help the UK fight this virus.”

If you want to take part, you can find out more, or download the app for Apple or Android.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

King’s launch a symptom tracking app to help fight coronavirus

King’s alum aims to provide a million free meals to key workers

King’s research shows one ventilator can be shared between two patients