Seattle flu and COVID research subjects get a free Apple Watch

Giving them a vaccine, I suppose, would defeat the purpose.

From AppleInsider’s “Respiratory study launches to discover how Apple Watch can predict COVID” posted Wednesday:

Researchers at the University of Washington have partnered with Apple to study how Apple Watch may be used to predict illnesses such as coronavirus, or flu.

As part of Apple’s series of health partnerships, the company is working with the University of Washington and the Seattle Flu Study. If accepted onto the coronavirus study program, participants will be provided with an Apple Watch.

“The goal of the study is to see if the information collected by the Apple Watch and iPhone can detect early signs of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19,” say the organizers on the recruitment page.

My take: I hope they also get a supply of masks.


  1. Rodney Avilla said:
    “early signs of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19”

    Early signs of respiratory illnesses. Colds, flu’s, etc. Then they throw in the word “covid” to generate interest. At least they are smart enough to admit they can’t differentiate between respiratory illnesses, and do not claim they can tell specifically early signs of COVID, just illnesses like COVID. So my watch might be able to tell me if I’m ___________ (fill in any of the many signs of a respiratory illness- cough, sneeze, running nose, sinus congestion, nasal congestion, ears popping, loss of smell, etc, etc, etc, etc).
    AppleInsider tries to make it sound better by saying “illnesses such as coronavirus, or flu”. Most, by far most, respiratory illnesses are colds.
    Needless to say, as a medical doctor, I’m having a hard time seeing the importance of such a study. I can’t imagine a patient coming in the office and saying “my watch tells me I might be catching a cold”.

    April 15, 2021
  2. Michael Goldfeder said:
    @Rodney Avilla:
    Mark Gurman confirmed everything you just said and wanted to emphasize that his Apple Watch never told him about any respiratory conditions prior to a sneeze. It didn’t even tell him he should blow his nose. Confirming his ongoing belief that Apple no longer innovates.

    April 15, 2021
    • Rodney Avilla said:
      I don’t believe this study has any relationship to Apple ability to innovate, just the researchers at the University of Washington’s ability to try to get grant money. And maybe a few free watches.

      April 15, 2021
  3. Bart Yee said:
    Mount Sinai and Stanford have already completed similar studies looking at heart rate variability as a potential sign of Covid-19 symptoms, studies NOT funded by Apple. Whether one “can” fully detect Covid-19 symptoms ahead of actual diagnosis or full blown disease is what the studies are investigating. Could be useful for another round of a future pandemic, especially for healthcare or frontline workers.

    April 15, 2021

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