Frequently asked questions
The app will be used to study the symptoms of COVID-19 and track the spread of this virus. This research is led by Prof. Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and director of TwinsUK.
TwinsUK is a scientific study of 15,000 identical and non-identical twins, which has been running for nearly three decades. As well as using the app to study symptoms in the general population – TwinsUK will use it to understand how symptoms develop with 5000 participating twins. Their research is funded by the Wellcome Trust and the National Institute for Health Research.
This research aims to help scientists understand COVID-19 , with the following specific aims:
A summary follows:
We take data security very seriously and enforce best practices to ensure your data is protected. This doesn't mean that there is no risk but we have taken every precaution to minimise that for you.
When we share data with researchers at partner institutions, such as Harvard University and Stanford University, it will be anonymised but as the USA has different rules on data protection they may not protect your data in the same way as, or as well as, under GDPR.
We are permitted to do this, because you consent to our doing it.
No. This is a not for profit initiative. While ZOE Global Ltd is a commercial entity, this app was built for free to support King's College London's vital coronavirus research. The app is and always will be free, and any data you provide will not be used for commercial purposes.
We will be seeking grants and donations for the app, to cover the costs of the service and so we can roll it out to the many countries who have been contacting us.
If you would like us to stop processing your personal data, you may withdraw your consent at any time by emailing us at [email protected]. When you withdraw your consent, we will delete all personal data we hold about you. In the future we will aim to build an easier mechanism for deletion within the app.
Around 5000 twins from TwinsUK will be using the app to record their symptoms. TwinsUK provides access to one of the most extensive clinical studies in the world with the most detailed clinical and long-term health data over 25 years. Those showing signs of coronavirus infection will be sent a home testing kit - if we can source enough of them. Researchers believe studying COVID-19 within this group is clinically urgent given the current limits on testing.
Unfortunately there may not be enough testing kits even for the twins. Therefore we cannot distribute testing kits to all app users at this point in time. Like everyone we hope that testing capabilities will be much bigger very soon. In the meantime logging your symptoms will allow us to understand much better the progress of the virus in the absence of a test for every individual.
Yes. We are working with researchers around the world, and this app reflects input from many countries. We expect that the questions we ask will evolve as we learn more about the virus, and King's College London will be coordinating data sharing with researchers in the UK and other countries to try and learn as fast as possible.
We are constantly reviewing the latest research and advice from scientists. We are also working on adding an additional field for participants to report any other symptoms that are not currently listed in the app.
We currently have a significant delay between updating our app and Apple or Google releasing this on the app stores. We are trying to contact them to get this fixed.
Currently this is hard to do. We hope to release new functionality in the future to make this much easier. Clinicians and researchers are particularly concerned about vulnerable individuals who may not be able to report symptoms themselves.
For now if you have an adult relative or friend without app access and you have their consent to do so, you may create an account using a unique email and password for them and then proceed to input information on their behalf. You will be required to log out and in to do this.
We are working on adding a feature that allows users to log previous symptoms. We currently have a significant delay between updating our app and Apple and Google releasing this on the app store. We are trying to contact them to get this fixed. As a result this functionality is not yet released. As we are a small, not for profit team we appreciate your patience as we work on this. When we do release it, it will ask if you think you had it, and if so whether you had the classic symptoms of fever and cough.
Sharing your symptoms with others is not currently possible. We may make this feature available in future, but as a small, not for profit team we appreciate your patience.
Unfortunately, no one under 18 is able to use our app directly, as they must be able to provide consent. We are discussing with our researchers how they wish to deal with this, as it is a frequent question from users. We hope to release new functionality in the future to allow people to input information on behalf of others. Clinicians and researchers are particularly concerned about vulnerable individuals who may not be able to report symptoms themselves.
We released our app quickly with default app permission settings. Although the app is allowed to ask for all of these things, it needs to ask your permission and in practice does not use any of them. Many of you rightly flagged this as excessive and we recognise it fails to meet best practice. As we do not use all these permissions, and don't intend to use them in the future, we will be removing them in a subsequent release of the app.
This is a not for profit app that was produced in a very short development time, therefore we admit there may be a bug or two. We welcome any and all feedback about our app in the relevant app store, or at [email protected]. Please bear with us as we resolve these issues.
We are aware some users have experienced issues creating an account on the app. This is a not for profit app that was produced in a short development time, therefore, there may be a few bugs. The number of users scaled from zero to over half a million within 24 hours. The good news is some of our team have built software that has scaled to hundreds of millions of users, but we still need to move fast to catch up! We recommend uninstalling and reinstalling the app and try creating an account again. If this doesn't work, please contact us at [email protected]. We are working on a better solution but this is a non-profit initiative so please bear with us.
If you uninstall and reinstall the app, you will be logged out of the app and you can try to create a new account with the correct email address. We know this isn’t a long-term solution, but it is a short-term fix that we are using for now.
Reminder notifications are not currently available but we are working to develop this feature. As we are a small, not for profit team we appreciate your patience.
We hope to release to other regions in the near future, based on an open-source approach. If you are interested in supporting this or because you have local language and development skills in your country please let us know by emailing [email protected].
Although this is not currently available, we intend to do so as soon as we have the resources. We realise that it is important for those who do not have smartphones or are otherwise unable to use a mobile-based app.
We are aware that our app fails to meet some accessibility standards and are working to resolve these issues.
This feature is not currently available. We may make this feature available in the future but as a small, not for profit team we appreciate your patience.
We use your email address so that if you lose your password we can send you a new one. You can use whatever email address you wish.
We are unable today to set any particular time limit on the storage of your sensitive personal data, but we will keep it under regular review and ensure that it is not kept longer than is necessary. Data about the spread of the virus is likely to be extremely valuable for researchers studying both this virus and in understanding epidemic spread for the future. We are likely, therefore, to retain this information for much longer.