Everyone is talking about COVID-19, including Kinsa. Below we've shared a few FAQ's. We hope sharing this information makes these uncertain times a bit easier to navigate.
Why is a thermometer useful for capturing the transmission of illnesses, like COVID? Won’t it miss a lot of cases as not every positive includes a fever?
We understand that everyone COVID-19 patient won't have a fever. COVID-19 symptoms, like all illnesses, don't have a one size fits all symptom list. Our illness signal can capture how illness is spreading across a population in real-time, regardless if a fever is reported. For example, if 50% of COVID-19 patients experience a fever, a doubling of people with fever in a particular location means that the same proportion was likely infected in that time period but did not get a fever.
How are COVID-19-related fevers differentiated from fevers caused by the flu or other illnesses?We can identify COVID-like illness from the broader category of Influenza-like illness in two ways. First, if the number of fevers is statistically higher than expected for influenza-like illness, we call this "atypical illness" and it is likely COVID-like illness. Second, we can identify transmission rates that don't statistically conform to typical cold and flu patterns, also called atypical transmission. To support these findings, we can review positivity rates for Flu A, Flu B, RSV, and COVID-19 tests to see if the trends match our findings and confirm that the spike in fever is likely the result of COVID-like illness.
What are the privacy implications of sharing this data?
Although we gather and share the information necessary to detect and effectively respond to outbreaks like COVID-19, we take privacy seriously and ensure your privacy is protected. There is no way to identify an individual from our illness signal. Kinsa shares population health insights -- i.e., the percentage of people in a county who are ill to help curb the spread of illness. Just as we incentivize the creation of drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines, we too should incentivize the creation, adoption, and effective use of novel datasets by local, state, and federal public health agencies as we have proven this can be done while protecting personal privacy.
How does Kinsa complement testing, contact tracing, or vaccine distribution strategies?
With an early warning system, officials can make earlier, more precise decisions about where to focus scarce testing resources, activate clinical trial sites, and more effectively target initially-limited quantities of an approved vaccine to areas with impending case surges. Furthermore, because the network serves as a two-way communication channel, the Kinsa platform can leverage its high engagement and retention levels to channel sick people toward contact tracing applications, increasing the traction and efficacy of those efforts.