MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Researchers at the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) have developed new tools, including the forecasting of temperature and a “health index,” to warn users of the onset of coronavirus-related symptoms and signs of infection in real time. 

“The RNI digital health platform measures and evaluates an individual’s integrated health status using a wearable ring and a phone app coupled with artificial intelligence feedback,” Ali Rezai, M.D., executive chair of the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, said. “This technology allows us to detect and forecast the symptoms and signs of infection during the silent, imperceptible, and asymptomatic phase of COVID-19, thus providing an additional safety tool for public health and return to work management strategies.”

According to a press release, the announcement builds on the RNI’s existing efforts to predict COVID-19 related symptoms in healthcare professionals and frontline workers.

“The health, safety, and mental wellbeing of our frontline healthcare workers are vitally important as West Virginia continues to fight this pandemic,” Clay B. Marsh, M.D., vice president and executive dean for WVU Health Sciences, said. “RNI’s study with more than 600 initial participants has proven to be a model that could help us safely navigate re-openings across the state and country and ultimately save lives.”

According to the release, in a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the RNI has deployed its Digital Forecasting Platform, which uses three components in a secure and de-identified fashion:

  • Wearables, such as a ring or watch, measure and track physiological data, such as the body temperature, heart rate and variations, respiratory rate and sleep and activity patterns.
  • RNI Health Mobile App, to which the wearables are linked, captures reporting of symptoms, as well as objective assessment of fatigue, stress, anxiety, memory and other functions of the integrated nervous system.
  • RNI’s unique artificial intelligence guided analytics forecast and predict the temperatures and disease symptoms three days in advance of onset with greater than 90% accuracy. 

As part of that response, the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute has been working with the State Resiliency Office and the West Virginia Military Authority for volunteers, made up of first responders, military members, family members and other people, to gauge its effectiveness, the release explains.

“As we continue to face this battle against an otherwise invisible threat, the work of West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute to keep West Virginians safe is another example of the important innovation taking place in the Mountain State,” Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard, said. “Thanks to the many volunteers who are participating, which includes members of the West Virginia National Guard, our civilian workforce, and family members, who are vital in the effort to combat this pandemic. We understand the importance of this study and are proud to work with WVU on this endeavor.”