The COVID-19 pandemic has been a masterclass in the need for accurate, population-wide, frequently updated and rapidly analysed digital data sources in global health.

This issue of Thorax presents two studies using data from the smartphone Zoe COVID Symptom Study app, which has been collecting voluntarily self-reported information from consenting participants ≥18 years on COVID in the UK since its launch in March 2020. As of 16 December 2020, 4 481 148 individuals had registered to use the app across the UK, USA and Sweden. While there are other citizen science studies running in the UK to track COVID symptoms (eg, FluSurvey/Influenzanet and TrackTogether), the Zoe COVID app is by far the most extensive of these in coverage and participation numbers, and has contributed, for example, to identification of anosmia as a key symptom of COVID-19 in general (in May 2020), and delirium as a key symptom in older people (October 2020).


© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained. https://bmj.com/coronavirus/usage

Cite as

Birkin, L., Vasileiou, E. & Stagg, H. 2021, 'Citizen science in the time of COVID-19', Thorax, 76(7), pp. 636-637. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/thoraxjnl-2020-216673

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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