Symptom data help predict COVID-19 admissions – ScienceDaily
Symptom data help predict COVID-19 admissions – ScienceDaily

Symptom data help predict COVID-19 admissions – ScienceDaily

Researchers at Lund University and Uppsala University are carrying out one of the largest civic science projects in Sweden to date. Since the start of the pandemic, study participants have used an app to report how they feel on a daily basis, even when they are feeling well. These symptom data can be used to estimate COVID-19 infection trends throughout Sweden and predict hospitalizations due to COVID-19 one week in advance. The results are now published in the scientific journal Nature communication.

The analyzes included more than 10 million daily reports from participants in the COVID Symptom Study Sweden from April 2020 to February 2021. The scope of the study was to develop and evaluate a framework for estimating the regional prevalence of COVID-19 using symptom-based monitoring, and to test whether these prevalence estimates could be used to predict subsequent trends in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

We show for the first time that symptom data can be informative to predict subsequent regional trends in hospitalizations due to COVID-19, and confirm previous reports that trends in symptoms are related to community infection rates. These symptom-based methods could be particularly useful in time periods and areas with low COVID-19 testing, “says Tove Fall, professor of molecular epidemiology at the Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University, one of the study’s lead authors.

The app, which was used for data collection, was originally developed by ZOE, a health science company, with the support of doctors and researchers at King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals, for non-commercial purposes. The ZOE COVID study was first launched in the UK and US in March 2020. It was adapted and introduced in Sweden, where it is known as the COVID Symptom Study Sweden, in April 2020. Any adult in Sweden can participate by downloading the app and giving consent in the app. Participants complete a general baseline health survey and can then report how they are feeling each day, even if they are feeling well. Over 209,000 participants in Sweden have so far contributed daily reports on symptoms, COVID-19 test results and vaccinations.

“This project would not have been possible without the dedication, hard work and spirit of cooperation from our team members and colleagues in the UK and USA. Above all, we have to thank every single research participant for their contribution. Performing ‘real-time’ ‘Science is challenging, but of utmost importance during a pandemic.We are proud to have been able to share real-time national and regional COVID-19 prevalence estimates on our dashboard almost every day since May 2020, and that COVID “Symptom Study Sweden data were useful for Swedish municipalities and county councils. With over 4.7 million contributors globally, the ZOE COVID study is one of the largest ongoing public science projects of its kind and has shown us the strength of civic science,” says Maria Gomez, Professor of Physiology at the Department of Clinical Sciences and Lund University’s Diabetes Center, one of the study’s lead authors.

Researchers developed and validated a model to understand what symptoms were associated with a positive COVID-19 test, using data from participants who had reported symptoms and results from the COVID-19 PCR test. That model could then be used to estimate the daily national and regional COVID-19 prevalence in the entire study population as well as subsequently in the Swedish adult population. By combining app-based prevalence estimates with information about current hospitalizations, the researchers were also able to predict future hospitalizations with moderate accuracy. In addition, the same model could be successfully applied to an English data set to predict hospital admissions across the seven English healthcare regions, highlighting the model’s transferability to other countries.

“Real-time and granular pandemic surveillance require combining multiple data sources,” said Beatrice Kennedy, a researcher at the Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University and first author of the study. “Our findings highlight how app-based symptom-based monitoring can provide a scalable and dynamic tool for monitoring infection trends, and as such should be considered in future pandemic contingency plans.”

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Materials supplied by Uppsala University. Note: The content can be edited for style and length.

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