Dutch hospital investigating whether smartwatch can detect Covid-19

Artist's rendition of the coronavirus
Artist's rendition of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the Covid-19 coronavirus diseaselightsourceDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

The Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen is investigating whether smartwatches made by Google sister company Verily for research into Parkinson's disease can also be sued to detect the coronavirus. The data collected by the watch's sensors may be able to indicate a Covid-19 infection at an early stage, researcher Bas Bloem said to NOS.

According to Bloem, the people in the original Parkinson's study have been wearing these watches, which measures all kinds of elements of Parkinson's, for up to two years. But the watch can also detect things like heart rate and skin resistance, he said. "We realized that, although that study was never intended for it, we can now use this situation to see if with people in the study who develop a corona infection, we can use that watch as a very early thermometer," he said to the broadcaster.

Patients in the original study are now being asked to give permission for their data to be used for the coronavirus study, Bloem said. The data from the sensors will be linked to questionnaires the participants are asked to complete. Radboudumc hopes this will show whether changes take place in the body before the patent notices that they are infected with the coronavirus or develop the resulting respiratory disease, Covid-19. 

The study will take three months, after which the hospital will decide whether it needs to be extended.