UCSF seeks 1 million participants for COVID-19 tracking app

University of California San Francisco physician-scientists launched a new research initiative that uses consumer insights and data to track the spread of COVID-19.

The project, dubbed COVID-19 Citizen Science, will allow anyone in the world, who is at least 18 years old, to share information about their health and daily habits with UCSF researchers.

The "citizen scientists" answer an initial survey about their health on UCSF's smartphone app and then receive follow-up questions through the app or text message on an ongoing basis. Participants will also be able to share geolocation data as well as data from Fitbit or other Bluetooth-enabled biomonitoring devices, including blood pressure, weight and body temperature.

UCSF hopes to enroll more than 1 million individuals across the globe, said Gregory Marcus, MD, a medical professor at UCSF and co-leader of CCS, according to the news release. "We want to demonstrate that the number of people signing up for this scientific study and contributing their data can increase exponentially, faster than the disease itself," he added. 

The research team plans to develop a data visualization that maps enrollment in CCS in real time. The more people who participate, the more insights researchers can gain into how the coronavirus is spreading and ways to predict and reduce the number of new infections, Dr. Marcus added.

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