Fitness trackers

Fitness trackers and smartwatches can reveal how your body is reacting to the COVID-19 vaccine

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Everyone reacts differently to the COVID-19 vaccine, and your Apple Watch may be able to tell you how badly. A recent study suggests that wearable sensors, from smartwatches to fitness bands, can detect and show how the coronavirus vaccine is affecting your body.

The Scripps Research team took data from the Digital Engagement and Tracking for Early Control and Treatment (DETECT) project which launched in March 2020. The data tracked each person’s health two weeks before and after each vaccine dose. . The researchers looked at sensor data on sleep, physical activity and heart rate from 5,600 people who received one of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.

“Studying physiological signals during the period surrounding vaccination can help us better understand the variability of vaccine response between people, as well as changes from an individual norm due to vaccination,” says Giorgio Quer. , PhD, director of artificial intelligence at the Scripps Institute for Translational Research, in a Press release. “As these individual changes are due to a person’s initial immune response to the vaccine, they can potentially help guide the future development of vaccines to optimize their efficacy and safety, and enable more precise and individualized vaccine treatment regimens.”

Heart rate seems to be the key

The day after vaccination, participants’ average resting heart rate increased. This effect was even stronger after a second dose. People’s heart rates peaked two days after vaccination before returning to normal four days after the first dose and six days after the second, respectively.

Women were more likely to experience changes in their resting heart rate five days after the first dose compared to men. Younger people were more likely to show a higher resting heart rate than older people after the second dose.

Overall, the vaccine did not cause major changes in sleep and activity patterns. However, the team noticed an increase in sleep and a decrease in activity after the second dose of vaccine.

“While the link between physiological response and immune response still requires further investigation, digital tracking could provide a new way to identify people who may not be responding optimally to the vaccine,” says Steven Steinhubl , MD, associate professor at Scripps Research and lead author. of the study.

Additionally, the technology could potentially help scientists understand why some vaccinated people get breakthrough infections.

The study is published in the journal npj Digital Medicine.