Amarillo, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) School of Medicine students are asking for the public’s input for a COVID-19 epidemiology study.
The study involves analyzing data collected from a symptom reporting app.
The COVID Symptom Tracker, says TTUHSC, asks contributors to answer a few questions about themselves and their current health, then check in every day to say whether they’re feeling fine or have noticed any new symptoms.
Anyone can take part by downloading the free COVID Symptom Tracker app on iOS from the Apple App store or Android from the Google Play store through covid.joinzoe.com.
“Unfortunately, the app has the lowest rate of usage in the West Texas area compared to the rest of the state,” says Ganesh Maniam, a fourth-year medical student at TTUHSC in Amarillo. “In order for us to get a more robust measurement of COVID-19’s impact here, we really hope more people will use the app to record their experiences with the disease.”
The medical students say the app will help them find hot spots here.
“The other important thing is that, you know, as he said, identifying those hotspots early could actually help us kind of curb that curb the rate of infection. You know, we’re able to identify those early and get people aware of that and we can actually help prevent people from getting sick and hopefully, prevent people from being hospitalized,” Maniam said.
One of the most important things, according to Connor Barry, a fourth-year medical student, is for users to track daily.
“We’re still in the what we would consider an acute phase of this, this disease. Typically acute we’re taught is less than six months,” Barry said. “So we’re just now passing over into the you know, what you could say the chronic phase, however, so we, you know, we know what happens acutely, but we’re kind of curious, what could happen chronically and just long term, and we’re just trying to determine those effects and symptoms or what have you.”
Maniam said the students are still working on study design and specifics, but they plan to compare the data from the app regarding exposure and symptoms to local COVID-19 data from the City of Amarillo Department of Public Health. The project officially starts in January, but data analysis can start as soon as there are enough app users in West Texas.
Avery Bramnik, a fourth-year medical student working on the project, said they are hoping to find trends if they exist.
“We know that COVID-19 disproportionately affects people with comorbidities, but really honing in on which demographics in West Texas, like, including gender, is there a difference in people’s tobacco use or other pre-existing conditions or even age?” Bramnik asked. “So, some things that we already know, but just really learning more about the West Texas population and how COVID-19 is affecting our patients here.”
The local faculty mentor for the project is Theresa Byrd, Dr. P.H., the chair of the Department of Public Health at TTUHSC.
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