May 6, 2020 - Health

An experimental wearable device detects early coronavirus symptoms

Bryan Walsh, author of Future

Northwestern's COVID-19 diagnostic. Photo: Northwestern University

A new wearable device is capable of catching early signs and symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Why it matters: With tests still in too-short supply, any device that can clue doctors to an early COVID-19 case is welcome. And the combination of people staying home because of social distancing and the overwhelming threat of the disease makes home diagnostics even more important.

How it works: The experimental wearable device, which sits at the base of a patient's throat, was developed by researchers at Northwestern University and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. It was initially meant to monitor speech patterns in stroke victims before it was reengineered for COVID-19, says Northwestern's John Rogers, who led the development.

  • Worn 24/7, the device detects coughing intensity and patterns, along with breathing sounds, heart rate and body temperature. The data is transmitted wirelessly to the cloud, where algorithms provide graphical representations that can be interpreted by physicians.
  • Rogers says about 25 people are currently wearing the devices, a mix of health care workers monitoring themselves for signs of COVID-19 and patients who have been sent home from hospitals and are being monitored remotely.

The new device joins an array of home diagnostics that have become suddenly popular during the pandemic, including pulse oximeters that can measure blood oxygenation levels — a vital sign for COVID-19 patients.

  • "The technology is here to take hospital ICU-grade diagnostics and deliver it to the home, to be worn on the skin for continuous health monitoring," says Rogers. "We think the pandemic will lead to a broader awareness of the value of this monitoring."
  • By one recent count, the market for connected medical diagnostics is expected to grow by an average of 25% a year between now and 2025. With companies like Amazon and Apple increasingly focusing on health diagnostics, "there is a huge opening for tech companies to do more of that work," futurist Amy Webb told me recently.

The bottom line: Health monitoring won't have to wait until your doctor is in.

Go deeper: Diagnostic testing supply shortages threaten coronavirus response

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Biden formally secures Democratic presidential nomination

Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University's student cente on June 5. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the formal Democratic presidential nominee on Friday evening, per AP.

The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 6,724.516 — Total deaths: 394,018 — Total recoveries — 2,996,832Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,894,753 — Total deaths: 109,042 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: WHCA president says White House violated social-distancing guidelines to make reporters "a prop" — Jailing practices contribute to spread.
  4. Sports: How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar.
  5. Jobs: Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market.
  6. Media: The Athletic lays off 8% of staff, implements company-wide pay cut.

Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.