'Covid App' developed by New York doctor and US software giant extended to Ireland
A US software giant which has developed a free Covid-19 app to assess risk of infection is extending it to Ireland.
Created by the Alpha company, the online diagnostic tool was launched earlier this week by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The 'Alpha app' was created in just over a week in conjunction with New York City cardiologist Dr Warren J Wexelman.
New York is currently the epicentre of the US coronoavirus outbreak.
The original idea was to develop a tool for heart disease but it was "pivoted" to tackle the pandemic.
"The public wants fast answers and doctors require rapid methods to triage incoming patients," said Dr Wexelman, who is based at NYU Langone Medical Center.
"Simultaneously, we're learning more about the virus every day, so risk factors and guidelines are constantly evolving.
"This app employs CDC guidelines, yet is built on a platform that can be updated immediately to reflect the latest guidelines."
While the Department of Health in the north last week also announced its own dedicated app for guidance on symptoms as well as advice for people who think they may have the virus, it is hoped the American version will complement it.
Instead of being a downloadable app, the Alpha service is hosted online which Dr Wexelman says makes it easier to update with the latest information about the virus and its effects.
The leading cardiologist pointed to the example of the identification of new symptoms - such as infected people reporting they had lost their sense of taste or smell.
The Alpha tool collects no personally identifiable information about the user and instead asks simple questions about age, gender and lifestyle.
The company stresses it is "not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment".
If a user's answers contain too many high-risk categories, they may get a message saying there is a risk of infection.
But even if the app assesses the risk as moderate or low, it delivers reminders of the best ways to avoid infection.
Alpha's chief executive Richard Rabins said he "sincerely hopes we can help our friends in Ireland north and south and their public health services in waging their fight against Covid 19."
The app can be accessed at www.mycovid19risk.com.