Smart Thermometers Help Keep Track Of Coronavirus Cases

A health tech company is offering smart thermometers to help the government speed up detection of COVID-19 across the U.S. San Francisco-based Kinsa Health said the device may help track the novel coronavirus in real time amid the lack of testing kits for the disease.

Kinsa’s internet-connected thermometers were originally designed to predict the spread of the flu. The smart device collects millions of data from users, which the company uses to create daily maps showing the number of people with fever in each county.

Over a million smart thermometers are already available in households across the U.S. with an estimated two million residents. The device promises to record fevers almost as soon as users experience symptoms.

Over the recent years, the company has created interactive maps that accurately predicted the spread of flu two weeks before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gets results from its own surveillance tool. CDC relies on weekly reports from hundreds of doctors’ offices and hospital emergency rooms to collect information on all patients with flu in the country, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

The smart thermometer “acts as an early warning system for illness spreading,” Kinsa Health founder Inder Singh said.

Kinsa Smart Thermometers And COVID-19 Pandemic

The company has created a new map that shows areas with spiking fevers. The same areas have been reporting new cases of COVID-19. 

On Saturday, Kinsa discovered an unusual rise in fevers in South Florida using its smart thermometers, at the time when patients with novel coronavirus were unknown. But a few days later, health authorities announced that the state is the new epicenter of the outbreak. 

“We can’t say for sure that these anomalous fever spikes are COVID-19, but we believe this is the earliest signal of where it’s occurring,” Singh said.

Nearly 90 percent of all patients with the novel coronavirus experience fever, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Public health experts said smart thermometers would significantly improve the detection and monitoring of the virus in the U.S. 

“This is very, very exciting,” William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, said. “This is 21st-century disease surveillance, and we’ve been rooted in the mid-20th century with something very labor intensive.”

Data from the device may help health authorities determine where to send more COVID-19 test kits immediately, according to Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Singh said Kinsa Health plans to release new maps and data on medRxiv, an online repository of medical articles, by the end of the week. A CDC spokeswoman said the agency “is not working directly with this particular company” but it “appreciates the efforts” of the industry to help fight COVID-19.

Kinsa Smart Thermometer Kinsa Health’s smart thermometers collect millions of data from users, which the company uses to create daily maps showing the number of people with fevers in each county in the U.S. bfishadow/flickr