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Kinsa Detects Rising Illness One Week Before Traditional Surveillance Systems

June 29, 2022  ||  By Alicia Sloughfy, MPH

 If you’ve had COVID-19 or know someone who has had it, you are likely familiar with this illness timeline:

Wake up feeling crummy...Wonder if you’re sick...Check your temperature (oh no, a fever!)...Make an appointment for testing (or buy an at home test)...Get tested...BOOM! Positive for COVID-19.

You likely know that your positive COVID-19 test result (if done by a healthcare professional) is reported to your local health department, which allows them to monitor the disease’s trends, like in this graph below:

COVID-19 cases in the US
Chart of COVID-19 confirmed cases in the US, March 2020 to present

What you may not realize, however, is that there is an inherent delay between the time you feel sick and when public health entities learn about your positive lab result.

The delay between the onset of your symptoms and when your positive test result is received by a public health department is called a reporting lag, and can range anywhere from 24 hours to 7 days. And, if you test positive via an at-home test and did not report it, that result goes completely undetected.

How are we supposed to protect our families from COVID-19 if we don’t even know when it’s spreading??

 That’s where Kinsa comes in. 

Because Kinsa smart thermometers are used within the home, aggregated and anonymized data on fever and symptom progression are collected long before an individual enters the healthcare system (if at all), eliminating this reporting lag

During the Omicron wave, Kinsa detected an increase in illness at a national level an average of 7 days before traditional public health systems. The time range between Kinsa data and traditional public health data has been observed at various levels during the pandemic and is primarily influenced by geographic region, pandemic restrictions and testing behaviors.

Kinsa's Lead Time During Omicron Surge
Kinsa's Lead Time During Omicron Surge

In the case of public health efforts, Kinsa’s early warning can be used to initiate vaccine clinics, increase testing efforts and provide education in communities with rising illness. 

This also means that Kinsa can assist you in making decisions quicker for your family the next time a COVID-19 wave comes around. You can also sign up for local illness risk alerts at