No, it cannot. But it can certainly be helpful.
Apple introduced the newest Apple Watch Series 6 at the “Time Flies” event recently. It’s a great addition to the lineup of one of the most popular smartwatches on the planet. But can a watch help detect Coronavirus? What’s sparking this debate is one of the new features coming to the Watch Series 6 – the Blood Oxygen feature.
Your Apple Watch can now calculate your Blood oxygen. Apple says that the watch will shine green, red, and infrared light onto the users’ wrists, and then calculate the blood oxygen level using the amount of light reflected back.
Can Apple Watch 6 Detect Coronavirus?
This isn’t exactly a new or revolutionary feature. A few other smartwatches have had it already for a couple of years. And there’s already a device – Pulse Oximeter – in the market that can calculate your blood oxygen level and heart rate. But still, the timing of this new feature debuting in Apple Watch is definitely serendipitous.
As is common knowledge, blood oxygen levels are associated with COVID-19. The coronavirus affects the level of oxygen in our blood to dangerous levels. But can this single addition to the watch detect Coronavirus? No, you cannot rely upon it alone to detect early symptoms of coronavirus. The blood oxygen levels are associated with the Coronavirus, but it’s not something every patient presents themselves with. But it can be useful in a number of scenarios.
How can the Watch help?
Although blood oxygen levels alone are not enough to help detect Covid-19 certainly, monitoring your blood oxygen levels can be of help. If you have other symptoms that could be indicative of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and you notice a drop in your blood oxygen levels, you should visit the doctor and get a test.
Also, if you are suffering from Covid-19 but with mild symptoms, and are monitoring your symptoms at home, keeping an eye on your blood oxygen levels can be of great importance. And especially for people with asymptomatic Covid-19, monitoring blood oxygen levels can be critical.
The watch only takes 15 seconds to monitor your blood oxygen levels.
Notably, Apple is also launching a study with the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Seattle Flu Study researchers to determine if the Apple Watch can determine early signs of acute respiratory infections such as Covid-19 or the flu. The study will help determine how useful the features like blood oxygen, heart rate, and other data like sleeping patterns and physical activity from your Apple Watch are in determining the impact of these diseases.
Users should note that the Apple Watch 6 can help in managing their general health and well-being better, but it is not for medical purposes. It can only help you manage the symptoms of Covid-19 better, in cases of confirmed or suspected exposure. But it is in no way a substitute for medical tests, and users should not treat it as such.