Smart ring maker Oura has published a study showing that the physiological response to COVID infections was greater in its unvaccinated users.
The peer-reviewed study, conducted by the company's team of in-house research scientists, took anonymized biometric data to track the body's response to both infections and vaccinations.
Focusing on breathing rate, body temperature trends, heart rate variability fluctuations, sleep efficiency and resting heart rate data in the month prior to and following an infection or vaccine, the researchers were able to identify larger fluctuations in those who didn't report having a vaccine.
In total, 838 Oura users who logged positive COVID infections were analyzed, along with 20,267 who received a vaccine.
The findings relating to vaccinated vs. unvaccinated users may not come as a huge surprise, but the study does also appear to reinforce the idea that wearables - in this case, the Oura Ring - can help be a predictor of health conditions.
For example, one of the study's key findings describes significant changes in those five biomarkers beginning around two days prior to a reported positive infection - lasting for roughly 10 days afterward.
This is in contrast to a mini-test we conducted back in 2021, when we looked back at our Whoop data before and after a bout of COVID, and found that the tracker was good at tracking our response but not necessarily that insightful when it came to predicting the incoming illness.
Interestingly, the study also gleaned a couple more insights.
Physiological responses appeared to be greater in the Delta variant when compared to the Alpha and other earlier variants - particularly in terms of the cardiac response.
The response to vaccination was much less dramatic than with an infection, too, with the biomarkers only being altered for around four days following a jab.
All in all, the study supports much of what we've been told by big brands about health tech trends moving forward; wearables are getting better and better at tracking health, and will soon grow into proper diagnostic tools.
In fact, it's something that Oura CEO Tom Hale zeroed in on when Wareable spoke to them back in January.
"Wearable companies [will] begin to go beyond the "health tracker" label and we may start to see wearable options level up to diagnostic territory.
"This will also drive a transition from reactive to proactive healthcare through continuous health monitoring," they said.
Expect to see more movement in this area from Oura and other passive trackers over the next year.
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