COVID symptom tracker

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 Next Steps.


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.


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 Centre for Longitudinal Studies team at UCL running the Next Steps study, who will also make the data available via appropriate conditions of access to researchers via secure mechanisms such as the UK Data Service 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 completed the survey you could specify that you did not want us to link your COVID symptom tracker data to your survey data.