King's College London: The team analysing your data

May 18, 2020

We talk to Dr. Claire Steves, Senior Clinical Lecturer at King’s College London who is leading the research team analysing your data.

An interview with Dr. Claire Steves, Senior Clinical Lecturer at King’s College London, who is leading the research team analysing your data.

What data are you collecting in the app?

Firstly we want to know about the person’s background, and collect information on health status which seem to be important in Italy and China. That’s things like history of heart disease, diabetes, chest problems. Then there is lifestyle factors, and also general health and vulnerability – frailty.Then we want to know symptoms people are having which are not normal for them. In the first version we included most things and we have added more now – so you may find this changes as we gain more understanding.Finally we want to gain a national picture of how people are being treated, and how they are recovering.

What are you going to do with the data?

Firstly we are interested to describe the symptoms as they develop. This might mean we can be more alert to early symptoms. As testing becomes more on stream this could mean those people could be tested earlier to prevent spread. Then we are interested to really understand what the risk factors for serious illness are in our population. This also means mapping geographical risk factors which are specific to the UK population. Third we want to share the data with bonafide researchers so that they can understand the disease more. All data shared will be anonymized so that no individual can be identified.

Why should everyone continue to track daily?

What we really want to be able to do is see how symptoms evolve over time in different risk groups. Are there patterns to who gets a mild disease. We think this might be really important research, especially if there is a second wave of the virus later on. Maybe we could put the lessons we learn into action to reduce deaths.

What are you seeing in the field with COVID19?

In London we are now seeing a lot of cases. Just like other countries, most are mild, while some need the NHS. I've been amazed by the organization and scale of resource that is being mobilized. We are gearing up incredibly and it makes me quite hopeful that together we can beat this.

What symptoms have been added to the app recently that you’ve contributed?

We’ve added loss of sense of smell, chest pain/ tightness and hoarse voice. Anecdotally these seem to be things which are reported in the less symptomatic. We also want to add more about muscle pains.

Who is most at risk?

For sure we are seeing that older people with multiple health problems are more vulnerable to this disease. So far we are also seeing that older people are certainly more affected. But it is a disease which will affect everyone in one way or another – the more we work together the more we can defeat this quickly, without our NHS and country coming to its knees.

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