MRC LHA & NSHD > Data collection > COVID-19 sub-study > COVID-19 symptom tracker FAQ

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FAQ's COVID symptom tracker

What is the COVID symptom tracker?

How do I download the COVID symptom tracker app?

Is the app only for people who have COVID symptoms?

What will the data in the app be used for?

Why do you want to link the data from the app with my survey data?

What personal information will I need to provide?

What does using the app involve?

Do I have to install the COVID symptom tracker to take part in the survey?

How will you link my COVID symptom tracker data to my survey data?

How will researchers use my linked COVID symptom tracker data linked to my survey data?

What if I don’t want you to link my COVID symptom tracker data to my survey data?

Can I opt out of you linking my COVID symptom tracker data to my survey data?

How will the maker of the app use my data and ensure it is protected?


What is the COVID symptom tracker?

Many people are recording symptoms of COVID-19 using specially designed symptom tracker apps. These are helping to slow the outbreak, by recording which symptoms are most common, and identifying high risk areas in the UK. We have teamed up with the organisations running the COVID-19 symptom tracker, designed by Kings College London, to allow the results from the symptoms tracker app to be combined with the information held by NSHD.


How do I download the COVID symptom tracker app?

You can download the app to your mobile devices from the COVID symptom tracker website – use the Apple Store or Google Play icons.


 Is the app only for people who have COVID symptoms?

No, you are encouraged to use the app even if you are well.


What will the data in the app be used for?

The data will help scientists to identify who is most at risk, by better understanding how symptoms are linked to underlying health conditions, and will show how fast the virus is spreading in your area.


Why do you want to link the data from the app with my survey data?

The linked data will greatly enrich the information available to researchers for understanding the lifetime risk factors for COVID-19 and its symptoms. In the future it will enable the long-term health and other outcomes of those experiencing COVID-19 and its symptoms to be understood.


What personal information will I need to provide?

To register on the app you will need to provide your email address, year of birth, and the first part of your postcode.  Optionally you can also provide your name, sex, and your full postcode, which you are encouraged to do to help us to link your survey data to your symptom tracker information. The app also asks you to optionally provide your telephone number.


What does using the app involve?

You will be asked for some information about your current health and to record your symptoms every day. If you have already been recording your symptoms using this app, the symptoms you have already recorded can also be linked.


Do I have to install the COVID symptom tracker to take part in the survey?

No, it is completely up to you whether you choose to use the COVID symptom tracker and you can still take part in the survey without installing the app.


How will you link my COVID symptom tracker data to my survey data?

The information from the COVID tracker app is held in anonymised form by the SAIL Databank, at the University of Swansea. The personally identifying information from the COVID tracker app is held separately by SAIL’s Trusted Third Party, the NHS Wales Information Centre (NWIS).

In order to link your survey data, we will transfer your first name, surname, year of birth, sex, postcode, email address, and a unique study ID to NWIS using their secure file upload website.

NWIS will de-identify and encrypt the personal data we send them and assign an Anonymous Linking Field (ALF). NWIS will send the ALF to SAIL, who will then use the ALF together with the unique study id to link your information from the COVID symptoms tracker app into your study information.


How will researchers use my linked COVID symptom tracker data linked to my survey data?

The de-identified linked data will be transferred back to the study team at the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL, who run the NSHD. The data will be made available through the normal data sharing processes and/or the SAIL databank.


What if I don’t want you to link my COVID symptom tracker data to my survey data?

When you complete the survey you can specify that you do not want us to link your COVID symptom tracker data to your survey data.


Can I opt out of you linking my COVID symptom tracker data to my survey data?

Yes, you can opt out at any time – you can call us for free on 0800 952 0249 or email us at mrclha.enquiries@ucl.ac.uk.


How will the maker of the app use my data and ensure it is protected?

You can read more about how your data will be used, your rights and the steps the app maker take to ensure it’s protected in their Privacy Policy or in their Frequently Asked Questions.