BARDA, Gates Foundation back Evidation Health's development of COVID-19 detection algorithm

The research effort is a collaboration with nonprofit 4YouandMe, and will collect self-reported symptoms and wearables data from 300 high-risk participants.
By Dave Muoio
02:52 pm

This morning real-world behavioral data analysis company Evidation Health announced a research initiative that will analyze behavior and symptom data to develop an early warning algorithm for COVID-19.

Funded by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the effort will work with 4YouandMe – a nonprofit that helps individuals share their health data for medical research – to collect self-reported and wearable-collected data from 300 participants. This study group will be made up of healthcare workers, first responders and other individuals at high risk of coronavirus infection.


The San Mateo company's platform is designed to help partners analyze and process sensor and behavior data at scale, which it is capable of collecting from more than 100 different data sources.

By applying these capabilities to COVID-19, the partners hope to drive new insights into the disease, chief among which are susceptibility to the disease and early warning signs of an infection. Further, applying those findings to a software algorithm that is accessible to individuals could help them manage their own condition or prevent it from spreading to others.

“The ability to self-monitor and be informed of health status will empower Americans in their decisions to help slow the spread of this pandemic and improve health outcomes for people with COVID-19,” BARDA Acting Director Gary Disbrow said in a statement. “This pilot study is not only an early step in demonstrating the utility of models developed using person-generated health data, but also may provide data to better understand the varied symptoms of COVID-19.”


Evidation has been fueling a number of big-name studies of late, with a long list of partners that includes Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Tidepool, and others. But the collaboration announced today also builds on a digital consumer-survey on COVID-19 concerns and behaviors that the company has been running since mid-March, which it says has now swelled to more than 150,000 participants.

Still, this is far from the only research project looking to wearables data for COVID-19 insights. Fitbit kicked off its own early-detection study a few weeks ago with the similar end goal of early-detection-algorithm development. And in late March both the Scripps Research Translational Institute and UC San Francisco pulled back the curtain on research that uses wearables to identify early patterns of various viral infections.


“Many infected individuals are asymptomatic but still able to spread the virus, making efforts to prevent and slow transmission of COVID-19 difficult,” Luca Foschini, cofounder and chief data scientist at Evidation, said in a statement. “This initiative will use novel behavioral and physiological data to more effectively identify when and where people may contract COVID-19, and can potentially enable real-time interventions to limit spread and monitor outcomes.”


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