King’s professor Dr Tim Spector awarded OBE for Covid app

He said: ‘This is an award for the whole team’

Dr Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, has been awarded an OBE in the Queens Birthday Honours for his services to the Covid-19 pandemic response.

Spector heads up the Covid Symptom Study app, launched to enable King’s health researchers to gain insight into the virus and help meet the urgent need for medical research to support the pandemic response.

Commenting on the award, Spector said: “It is great that the Kings-ZOE symptom study app has been given recognition in this way for its impact on Covid-19.

“The whole project got going in just four days and was only possible with the amazing app team at ZOE and the superb academic team at King’s College London all working together.

“This is an award for the whole team.”

Guy's Campus, King's College London

Guy’s Campus, King’s College London

The Covid Symptom Study app helps inform the NHS and government’s response to the virus, and is the world’s largest community monitoring of Covid symptoms.

On 18 August, the Department for Health and Social Care awarded the app a £2 million grant.

Because app users take one minute to log their symptoms every day, the app provides almost real-time insight into the spread of the disease across the UK, revealing developing hotspots.

The app enabled the discovery of new Covid symptoms, including the loss of smell (anosmia), which the UK government decided on 18 May should become the third Covid symptom triggering self-isolation.

More recently, skin rashes have been identified as a key symptom of Covid, and an online database has been developed to help with rash identification.

Research has also shown the most important symptoms to watch out for in children (who experience different typical symptoms to adults), crucial information given the return to school this autumn.

On Twitter, Spector said the award recognised the “massive team effort behind the … app”, thanking the “amazing app team” at ZOE, his “great academic colleagues” at King’s, and “most of all … the loyal millions of you citizen scientists who believed – and shared it!”


Other King’s staff, students and alumni recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours include:

Professor Edward Byrne, President and Principal of King’s, who received a knighthood in acknowledgement of his services to higher education

Professor Anne-Marie Rafferty, Professor of Nursing Policy, and former Dean of the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, who received a Damehood in recognition of her services to nursing

Dr James Rubin, Assistant Director, Health Protection Research Unit for Emergency Preparedness and Response, King’s College London, who received an OBE acknowledging his services to public health, in particular during the Covid-19 pandemic

Felicia Kwaku, a member of the wider King’s community and Associate Director of Nursing at King’s College London NHS Foundation Trust, was awarded an OBE in recognition of her work supporting black, Asian, and minority ethnic nurses during the pandemic.

The Covid Symptom Study app has now been downloaded over 4.3 million times.

If you want to become a contributor, you can find out more, or download the app for Apple or Android.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

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

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

King’s students test Covid-19 positive after KCLSU event