Study says the Apple Watch can detect long-term COVID-19 effects

Apple Watch Series 6 Hero
Apple Watch Series 6 Hero (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • A new study says the Apple Watch could help detect long-term effects of COVID-19.
  • The study included data from over 37,000 people with wearables like the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch could become a key tool in tracking the long-term impact of COVID-19 on a patient.

As reported by The New York Times (via 9to5Mac, a new paper published by JAMA Network Open says that wearables like the Apple Watch and Fitbit could provide researchers and doctors data about the long-term effects of COVID-19. The Digital Engagement and Tracking for Early Control and Treatment (DETECT) trial was run by scientists at the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California between March 25, 2020 and January 24, 2021 and studied the data from 37,000 volunteers.

According to the research, combining data from the Apple Watch with self-reported symptoms was more accurate in positively identifying a case of the disease than symptoms alone.

Now, researchers are diving deeper into the data with a focus on the lasting health effects of COVID-19 — oftentimes referred to as "long COVID." At first, the researchers are focusing on data from Fitbit users, which shows that Fitbits can detect lasting changes. "There was a much larger change in resting heart rate for individuals who had Covid compared to other viral infections," said Jennifer Radin, an epidemiologist at Scripps. "We also have a much more drastic change in steps and sleep."

Dr. Jennifer Radin said that the results have proved that more research is warranted into seeing if wearables can play a key part in not only detection, but tracking the long-term effects of COVID-19.

"We want to kind of do a better job of collecting long-term symptoms so we can compare the physiological changes that we're seeing with symptoms that participants are actually experiencing," Dr. Radin said. "So this is really a preliminary study that opens up many other studies down the road."

There have been multiple studies going on that aim to see if wearables like the Apple Watch can help with COVID-19. An earlier study from February said the watch could even help detect an infection up to a week before testing. Of course, all of these studies are in early stages and more research is needed to confirm these claims.

If you want the best Apple Watch that Apple has to offer, check out our list of the Best Apple Watch 2021.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.