In the UK, there have been 22,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, resulting in more than 1,400 deaths. However, the number of cases only accounts for people who have been tested for COVID-19, with many people staying away from hospitals, suffering only from mild or no symptoms at all.
Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, believes the real number of infected could be in the millions.
He wrote in an article for The Conversation: “While some patients who seek medical care or are hospitalised are being tested, there are many more people – possibly millions – with mild or moderate COVID-19 symptoms who are not.”
As a result, Prof Spector and his colleagues at King’s College have launched an app called COVIDradar which allows everyone to report their symptoms.
By doing so, it not only allows experts to analyse the real number of infected people, but the data will reveal where the virus is most prominent and how policies are fairing in these troubled times.
Prof Spector wrote: “The data from the app is being made available every day to policymakers, NHS services and academic researchers on a strictly non-commercial basis.
“As well as helping us understand more about the symptoms of coronavirus and the people who are most at risk of becoming seriously ill, this information will also reveal how fast the disease is spreading and identify geographical hotspots.
“By getting real-time updates, decision-makers can plan and allocate limited NHS resources more efficiently and monitor the impact of policy measures, such as social distancing.
“The data can also help to highlight who needs testing for current or past coronavirus infection.
“So far, we have already shared data from the first million participants with the NHS, revealing a wide distribution of reported symptoms all over the UK.
“We’re going to need all the help we can get over the coming weeks and months as we battle this new enemy that threatens our health and economy.
“While our heroic NHS staff and key workers keep the country running, the rest of us can join the fight from the safety of our homes, armed with nothing more than a smartphone. Let’s spread the app faster than the virus.”
Around the world, total confirmed coronavirus cases have now surpassed 780,000 – impacting 198 countries.
The number of dead from the disease has also exceeded 37,000 as the US becomes the most infected country in the world.
More than 164,000 people have now confirmed to be infected in the States, 80,000 more than China despite the virus reaching American shores more than a month later.