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Webchat with Professor Tim Spector, the lead researcher behind the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app, on Wednesday at 2pm
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BojanaMumsnet · 30/11/2020 10:14

Hello

We’re pleased to announce a webchat with Professor Tim Spector, the lead researcher behind the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app, on Wednesday 2 December at 2pm.

Professor Tim Spector OBE is a Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King's College London and honorary consultant physician at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals. He is also an expert in personalised medicine and the gut microbiome and started the famous UK Twin Registry in 1993. He is the lead researcher behind the world’s biggest citizen science health project – the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app.

The COVID Symptom Study app is a not-for-profit initiative that was launched at the end of March 2020 to support vital COVID-19 research. The app was launched by health science company ZOE with scientific analysis provided by King’s College London.

This free tool has been used by more than 4 million people in the UK, US, and Sweden. The app identified new symptoms of the disease and risk factors as well as monitoring its progress to warn health authorities. The app is sponsored by the Welsh Government, NHS Wales, the Scottish Government & NHS Scotland.

As the UK’s largest citizen science project, they are now expanding to better understand COVID-19 in children. Here’s what they say about the ZOE COVID Symptom Study School Communities Programme:

“With over 1,000 schools signed up, we need parents and carers to take 1 minute a day to report any symptoms and COVID tests on behalf of their children via our app. All symptom and test reports for children are collected anonymously and aggregated by their school and bubble. Schools receive daily insights on a variety of key COVID metrics for each bubble, with some insights also shared with parents.”

“If your school isn't signed up, ask them to join us! And don't worry, all parents can log their children's health at any time whether your school is signed up or not.”

Please join us here on Wednesday at 2pm. If you can’t join us on the day, please leave your question here in advance.

As always, please remember our webchat guidelines - one question per user, follow-ups only if there’s time and most questions have been answered, and please keep it civil. Also if one topic is dominating a thread, mods might request that people don't continue to post what's effectively the same question or point. (We may suspend the accounts of anyone who continues after we've posted to ask people to stop, so please take note.) Rest assured we will ALWAYS let the guest know that it's an area of concern to multiple users and will encourage them to engage with those questions.

Many thanks,
MNHQ

Webchat with Professor Tim Spector, the lead researcher behind the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app, on Wednesday at 2pm
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Gancanny · 30/11/2020 12:41

Do you find it frustrating that Covid measures are becoming less about the science and more about party politics with various appeasements/u-turns/pointscoring, and do you feel this less-than-united government response is going to prolong the pandemic?

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StealthPolarBear · 30/11/2020 13:54

What impact did the roll out of the NHS app have on use of the zoe app? I wonder whether people felt all app-ed out or, like me, they had to delete something to make room for the new one.it must have been very difficult to have zoe always reflect the latest guidance and testing procedures.

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starrynight19 · 30/11/2020 14:12

What are the main symptoms you are finding in children who test positive ?
It seems that the three symptoms children are being asked to test for are mainly adult symptoms and not children.

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Brown76 · 30/11/2020 16:55

Can you explain more about how schools can use the app

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TottiePlantagenet · 30/11/2020 20:37

Can you please explain why the Zoe app requests gender details rather than sex? Women and men are affected differently in some illnesses, and need to be treated differently - why are you not recording biological sex?

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SheepandCow · 30/11/2020 21:26

Thank you for the app. It's so easy to use, with some very interesting information.

Do you believe that the initial vaccine cut-off age should be 40 or 45, rather than 50? (especially in deprived areas, where the risks are higher). Hospitalisations and deaths start to increase from about 45, and the Long Covid risk seems to increase from 40 (especially for women).

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SheepandCow · 30/11/2020 21:33

Linked to my previous question. It's not uncommon for people to develop underlying conditions in their 40s. Two of the diseases with the highest Covid-19 death rates worldwide - diabetes and hypertension - are sometimes known as silent killers, because so many people go undiagnosed with few obvious symptoms in earlier stages.

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JamieLeeCurtains · 30/11/2020 22:26

@TottiePlantagenet

Can you please explain why the Zoe app requests gender details rather than sex? Women and men are affected differently in some illnesses, and need to be treated differently - why are you not recording biological sex?

I think this is a really important question.

My GP surgery asks for one's sex on all its e-consult formats, so it's absolutely mainstream and sensible. 'Gender' is rather a woolly social thing, and with Covid-19 surely we need to focus on the science and how it affects us as a sexually dimorphic species.

Elevated TNF-alpha in pre-eclampsia and correlations with autoimmune conditions is an area of exciting future research that I'm interested in, for example, but one needs one's data gathering to have specified sex.

Covid research should clear on this.
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SchemingIvy · 30/11/2020 22:30

Why did the app ask what I "identify" as?

Doesn't that render your research and data unscientific and thus meaningless?

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JamieLeeCurtains · 30/11/2020 22:42

Sorry, posted too soon!

My actual question therefore is: How will you collect meaningful evidence about possible sex differences of the sort discussed in this Yale Medicine article?

medicine.yale.edu/news-article/25385/

Anyway, thank you very much for doing this webchat, and I look forward to reading your answers.

Thank you for doing this work.

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PacificState · 01/12/2020 10:08

Hello

Thank you for the ZOE app. I remember back in the dark days of the spring it was one of the first things that felt vaguely hopeful and constructive.

On gut health - what's the first thing you'd recommend a middle-aged woman to do, to improve gut health? (It's going to involve not eating things I like, isn't it Grin)

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whysohungryagain · 01/12/2020 10:41

Hi,

What's next for you and for ZOE after Covid? Does the Covid study have an end date and will you continue to work on epidemics or contagious diseases?

Thank you!

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CaveMum · 01/12/2020 10:42

Have you spoken to Department of Education about schools using the App? I sent a message to my daughter’s Primary School about using it and in the latest school newsletter the Headteacher said that she had received a number of requests from parents to use the app but after consultation with the Local Education Authority (Cambridgeshire) she had been advised not to do so due to fears about data protection.

If the LEA’s are advising against schools using the app then surely this side of the research will fail. I’d suggest lobbying the DofE to give clarification to the LEAs about using the app.

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CaveMum · 01/12/2020 10:44

Oh and I’m absolutely with @TottiePlantagenet and the others, please make it clear that you need to know the app user’s biological sex, not their “identity”.

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PerArduaAdNauseum · 01/12/2020 11:43

As someone with Antiphospholipid Syndrome, I'm seeing a lot of similarity between APS and covid - both the acute and long covid. Is this something people are looking into, and can we hope that APS might get some new treatments in the future?

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Blue5238 · 01/12/2020 12:33

I have been contributing to the Zoe app since the early spring and think it is a fabulous initiative for data gathering.

Can I ask, if you were Prime Minister, what would be the key elements of your Covid policy over the next 6-12 months?

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IloveJKRowling · 01/12/2020 16:26

That issue of accuracy aside, thank you for the Zoe app, I think we'd be in a much worse place as a country without it.

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chomalungma · 01/12/2020 18:07

I just wanted to say hi. I almost ended up working in one of your labs many years ago with the twin studies - but decided not to take it. There goes a sliding door Grin

Anyway - I love the twin studies and the gut biome is fascinating.

Are you doing any work with your twin studies and Covid-19? Is there any interesting data from that?

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Bufferingkisses · 01/12/2020 18:30

Should lateral flow tests provided through workplaces be added to your tests on the app or is it aimed at PCR tests only?

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Mindgone · 01/12/2020 19:52

@Bufferingkisses

Should lateral flow tests provided through workplaces be added to your tests on the app or is it aimed at PCR tests only?

I’d like to know this too please.
And many thanks from me too for all your hard work, you’re very much appreciated 😊
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Joditaylorfan · 01/12/2020 21:27

I've been trying to add my children to the app. As I don't know their blood type, I can't go any further.
Were you aware of this problem? I have raised it as a concern.

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Ahava3 · 01/12/2020 21:50

I feel quite disenfranchised with the whole covid testing scheme and general government response. Apparently the PCR testing has many flaws (see Dr. Mike Yeadon's extensive response to PCR testing). What is the point of introducing mass testing/tracing in schools? I personally would not test my child if they showed symptoms, I would keep them off school until they were healthy again, but think the tests are inconclusive and just feeding into the covid case numbers...lockdowns and general government CONTROL fir the greater good of course!!! Theoretically an unwell child may have dead covid virus that gets picked up because it's being tested for and then amplified, when really their symptoms are seasonal flu? What ever happened to the flu?

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trunumber · 01/12/2020 22:37

Do you know if the Oxford vaccine can be taken by breastfeeding mothers?

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LooSeatInTheSkyWithDiamonds · 02/12/2020 07:36

I've been using the app from the start and my DC's school is also signed up (as an aside I think asking for height and weight may put people off signing up if they don't know this information for their child).
Speaking to a friend who is suffering with long covid, she said that some results had been misinterpreted (women over 50 being disproportionately affected, when actually it was because the majority of Zoe users are older women). I know at the start you were searching for elderly users rather than just the tech savvy younger generations. I'm interested to know the demographics of app users - do you have a good spread across the ages and split between sexes.

And on the sex point, I questioned the use of gender rather than sex and think the answer was something to with aligning with a US study. Surely sex is important to record? Or is the number of transgender so insignificant that it doesn't impact data (but then you don't know the impact on transgender people) and outweighs the risk of losing potential users who are scratching their head at the gender questions and not going any further?

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LooSeatInTheSkyWithDiamonds · 02/12/2020 08:16

And a follow up question if I'm allowed...

What data/insights do participating schools get access to and what do you hope to learn from looking at schools.

Thank you! I think crowdsourcing data is a great way to study at scale, but not without its challenges. I'm very grateful for the insights that Zoe has and continues to highlight as we try to improve our understanding of covid.

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