Cape Town: LifeQ, the leading independent provider of wearable derived health information, today announced the South African operations of ESET, a premier global cyber security company, to be the first customer for its COVID-19 early warning and disease tracking solution. With the physiologic monitoring via LifeQ’s wearable-based platform, businesses can better predict outbreaks and assist employees towards recovery by leveraging a critical early warning and disease tracking system for COVID-19 in individuals.

After extensive lockdowns globally in response to the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, countries and businesses have to find a new set of answers to deal with the ongoing repercussions of the pandemic as part of a much needed drive to “get back to business”. New studies are released almost daily that outline the debilitating longer term impact – even on younger people that have recovered – and the lasting cardiovascular effects and persistent symptoms after acute COVID-19.  It is further clear that although a first tier of vaccines will be available towards the end of 2020, many questions remain on the safety after fast tracked trials, and globally significant portions of public have already indicated a reluctance towards early adoption of vaccines.

“Fortunately, the lockdowns have successfully rooted a new more mindful behavioral pattern amongst individuals globally, and a growing range of measures are being adopted to adjust to a new normal,” said Laurie Olivier, CEO of LifeQ.  Beyond the longer-term promise of vaccines, these include point of care testing, temperature screening, wearing of masks, social distancing, sterilisation of surfaces, PPE, and symptom reporting.  Olivier continued: “However, while having some prevention benefits, none of these measures are as effective as an early warning system of actual infections to prevent the spread among co-workers at offices and in manufacturing plants”.

Businesses that cannot operate effectively on a remote basis have to go out of their way to safeguard their employees. Some businesses have been holding out in the hope that the COVID-19 threat will disappear or that a super vaccine will become available ultimately terminating the pandemic. However, the more rational organisations are concluding that the challenge will not evaporate overnight. Therefore, adopting new technologies that could ease the anxieties of employees who would like or may need to return to office, but are rightfully scared of being infected by their colleagues.

“We owe it to our employees and our country to implement solutions towards getting back to business while safeguarding our employees,” said Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO of ESET Southern Africa.  “We are proud to be partnering with LifeQ, adopting this world class solution and ultimately working with their team to lead the way. This also shows the great potential of our country as an innovation hub – the Stellenbosch based complement of LifeQ played a crucial role to get this solution prepared for the global market.”

A range of wearable companies are involved in studies to validate the application of their own products for pre-symptomatic screening.  The challenge wearables face is the ability to comprehensively monitor the wide range of physiological parameters needed as the impact of COVID-19 varies from human-to-human.  “No single measure like breathing rate or resting heart rate is sufficient as an effective universal screening mechanism.  Also, while having suitable outputs for consumer use, most wearables lack the accuracy and fidelity of biometrics required to minimise the false positives and negatives to be an effective early warning system for COVID,” said Franco du Preez, PhD, LifeQ’s Chief Scientist.

The LifeQ solution serves as a screening tool, and if no other explanation for anomalies could be found, would recommend the individual take a COVID-19 test.  While releasing a first version of the product early that is geared to helping companies get back to business, LifeQ is currently testing a range of physiological streams that will add accuracy and impact to the current offering.