The COVID-19 Surveillance We Are Ignoring

Sometimes you hear of a brilliant idea and are thinking “why isn’t everyone jumping on this?”

A Smart Thermometer to Detect COVID-19 Early

When it’s an idea that could have a major impact on the spread of COVID-19, it’s even more frustrating that the powers-that-be aren’t implementing.

I am talking about the Kinsa Health atypical illness surveillance. A company that has come up with a smart thermometer with a Bluetooth connection to an app on your phone that sends information to their database. 

From this they construct a “Health Weather” map. A map that shows the activity level of Influenza Like Illness Levels. 

Delay In Diagnosis

When COVID arrives in a community, it usually takes people 5 to 8 days to get to see the doctor after they first experience symptoms. And then even longer to get test done and results back to show up in the official records – by which time the person can have spread the virus all over.

Kinsa has been collecting data about flu in the community and making “health weather maps” for years. They are able to establish patterns by zip codes and season as to what to expect. So then when they see a spike in fevers where it would not be expected, it’s an indication that COVID-19 has arrived – fever being the principal symptom in 90 percent of people developing COVID-19. 

Disease modeler at Oregon State University, Benjamin Dalziel uses various records to track flu. But is quoted in the New York Times saying the Kinsa thermometer readings “are by far the most high-quality data set I’ve ever worked with.” 

The maps at their website are truly amazing. You can track your specific county over time.

As you are probably all too aware, the biggest challenge to controlling COVID-19 is identifying it soon enough so you can impose quarantine restrictions. 

Health weather mapping seems like a no brainer. But the NY Times also reports a C.D.C. spokeswoman saying the agency “is not working directly with this particular company, but appreciates the efforts of so many private sector companies to address this new threat.”

Sounds like the all too familiar negation and hands off “leave it to the governors/mayors/local leaders” approach of the Fed’s making for the ineffective containment policy we have seen to date – which the recent resurgence in many states in the south and west tells us is not cutting it.

And Another Thing

Another curmudgeonly comment to make is that, even when you do have a good way of identifying hot spots, you’ve still got to have a population willing to implement containment measures – especially wearing masks. 

Where We End Up Without Prevention

One of the main differences between the US and China, or South Kora, or Germany or New Zealand seems to be that they don’t have a significant population of dickheads who think their freedom is being compromised, or it is a sign of weakness, to adopt precautions to protect their fellow citizens. 

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment