Coronavirus spreads successfully across communities partly because symptoms do not often appear until several days after infection. Current research suggests that the viral load plateaus at the point symptoms appear and increases in the preceding 2.5 days.
There is urgent need for early biomarkers that can be detected immediately upon infection and prompt early self-isolation, testing and reduce the threat of spread. They need to be easy to obtain, ideally through existing smart devices and fitness trackers.
We have used Heart Rate Variability (HRV), a measure of the variation in time between each heartbeat controlled by our autonomic nervous system (ANS) which regulates heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and digestion. HRV reflects the ability of the heart to respond to different situations and can react to stress or illness before any changes in resting heart rate are seen. This makes it a very powerful signal providing insights in stress and recovery status.
Most critically, we believe changes in HRV appear before symptoms of infection arise, enabling individuals to self-isolate promptly and reduce the risk of transferring the virus.
We are delighted to have been successful in the highly competitive Innovate UK Business-led Innovation in Response to Global Disruption funding call to review and validate the use of HRV working with an international team of experts.