Report: NBA players given option to use smart ring for detecting COVID-19 symptoms

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DENVER (KDVR) — Basketball is back on next month, and The Athletic reports NBA players will have a smart ring made available to them. The fitness tracker accessory is expected to serve as a warning system for COVID-19. Several news outlets report that smart ring is the Oura Ring.

Dr. Shannon Sovndal is an emergency room physician and medical director in Boulder. He was also the team doctor for a pro cycling team for eight years and is a published author. Sovndal said the Oura Ring is not a diagnostic tool but can be useful nonetheless.

“I don’t think a player wants a swab up their nose every day, every game, to practice or to play,” said Sovndal.

Sovndal said fitness trackers measure health metrics like heart rate, temperature and respiratory rate. A change in the numbers could indicate stress on the body. Sovndal said eventually, researchers might be able to figure out precise patterns in these health metrics that point strictly at COVID-19 but believes the science is not yet there.

“Do you have the cold? The flu? Did you get into a fight with your wife? Did you not sleep well last night? Are you stressed about work? All those things can contribute to those numbers changing,” said Sondval.

A recent study out of West Virginia University showed the use of the Oura Ring, combined with an app and using artificial intelligence models, predicted the onset of COVID-19-related symptoms three days in advance with over 90 percent accuracy. The study used 600 health care workers and first responders. Researchers hope to expand that study to include 10,000 people.

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