Abu Dhabi vaccine trial turns to wearable tech

Volunteers offered a free fitness tracker in landmark move for wearable technology

Volunteers for the Covid-19 vaccine trial wait to be screened at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Victor Besa / The National
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Volunteers in the UAE's Covid-19 vaccine trial are being offered a free fitness tracker.

The move aims to help thousands of people monitor their fitness, sleep and recovery levels during the trials.

It is believed to be the first time wearable technology is being used in clinical trials for a vaccine against coronavirus.

The development stems from a partnership between Abu Dhabi's G42, an AI and data company, along with Boston-based wearable technology firm, Whoop.

All volunteers at vaccine centres at Abu Dhabi's National Exhibition Centre and Al Qarain Centre in Sharjah are eligible for the tracker.

It comes as health officials said on Thursday that 15,000 volunteers had registered for the Covid-19 vaccine trial in the UAE.

Health officials said the 15,000 volunteers had received their first of two doses and would be inoculated with the second within the next few weeks.

More than 4,500 of the 15,000 vaccinated volunteers were Emirati.

“We believe that giving volunteers an opportunity to use the Whoop Strap 3.0 wearable device will reinforce their confidence in the trial by giving them the ability to check on several daily health data points," said Ashish Koshy, the chief executive of G42, which is working on the trial with Abu Dhabi's health authorities.

Whoop Strap 3.0

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of wearable technology in health care. According to researchers at Imperial College in London, the technology is undergoing rapid development to monitor patients and capture data such as temperature, heart rate and sleep quality.

"The rollout of healthcare wearables in the near future is likely to improve patient management, providing novel strategies for effectively managing endemic or emerging infections and outbreaks," they wrote in a July paper for the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.