New app plots way to avoid coronavirus in daily life

Combing personal data with information on the disease, the app tells people where it is safe to go. PAP/Abaca

Polish scientists have created a new app that estimates the risks posed by the coronavirus by giving users a personalised assessment that can help them plan their daily lives and reduce the chances of being infected.

While much of Europe, including Poland, remains under lockdown to make it more difficult for the virus to spread, countries are thinking about ways to allow certain parts of life to continue or resume when the restrictions are eased. This includes how people could go about their daily lives while not being exposed to the virus.

Already online, the new app called POLCOVID-19, is part of the response to this challenge. Stemming from cooperation between the Medical University in Białystok and biotechnology company Imagene.me, which is based in the same city and employs specialists ranging from experts on genetics to programmers, it helps people stay safe by showing them which places to avoid.

"In this crisis situation that affects us and our loved ones, as scientists we want to better understand the nature of this disease in order to deal with it more effectively now and prepare for what the future holds,” said Doctor Mirosław Kwaśniewski, head of the University’s Bioinformatics and Data Analysis Centre, who led the team that created the app.

The app can help people get on with their daily lives.Mateusz Marek/PAP

"Thanks to the app, people will be able to organise their everyday life and work more efficiently,” he added.

The website combines official Polish and global data with statistics from the POLCOVID-19 app. It features maps of Poland showing the areas with the most infections and deaths, the most people who have been hospitalised, and the largest number of people quarantined, as well as many charts.

The app goes a step further by proving a personalised assessment based on the user’s health, rather than a universal measure of risk that applies to everyone.

To use the app, users need to create an account and provide basic information about themselves, which is anonymised. They then will fill out a survey relating to COVID-19, which is used to calculate the risk of them becoming ill.

Based on this, the app generates personalised recommendations. Low-risk users receive information on how to minimise the risk of being infected, while high-risk users are advised on where to seek help. Users can repeat the survey at any time to receive an updated assessment of the risk.