Home Fitness guide Scientists discover digital biomarkers that may be associated with vaccine-induced immune response

Scientists discover digital biomarkers that may be associated with vaccine-induced immune response


A new digital health study by researchers at Scripps Research shows how data from wearable sensors, such as smartwatches and fitness bands, can track a person’s physiological response to COVID-19 vaccination. 19.

The study, published in npj Digital Medicine, analyzed sensor data on sleep, activity and heart rate from more than 5,600 people. Among the results, the team showed that participants’ average resting heart rate increased significantly the day after vaccination. The effect appeared to be stronger after the second dose of the Moderna vaccine, compared to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and more pronounced in younger people.

According to lead author Giorgio Quer, PhD, director of artificial intelligence at the Scripps Research Translational Institute, this study is a first step toward quantifying the physiological response to vaccination in individuals using commercial sensors.

“Studying physiological signals during the period surrounding vaccination can help us better understand the variability of vaccine response between people, as well as changes from an individual norm due to vaccination,” Quer says. “As these individual changes are due to a person’s initial immune response to the vaccine, they can potentially help guide future development of vaccines to optimize their efficacy and safety, and enable more precise and individualized vaccine regimens.”

The researchers drew their data from a larger project, called Digital Engagement and Tracking for Early Control and Treatment (DETECT) launched in March 2020, in response to the emergence and rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. DETECT is a mobile app research platform that allows participants to share physiological and behavioral data collected via a fitness band or smartwatch, as well as manually entered symptoms, test results, and vaccination status.

To determine whether consumer wearables could uncover digital biomarkers of vaccine-induced immune response, scientists analyzed DETECT sensor data from two weeks before and after each vaccination dose. They compared post-vaccination changes in participants’ resting heart rate, sleep and activity levels to baseline.

The analysis showed that the average resting heart rate of study participants increased significantly the day after vaccination, peaking two days after vaccination and returning to normal four days after the first dose and six days after the vaccination. second. In addition to increases in resting heart rate being greater after the second dose of the Moderna vaccine compared to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the study suggests that prior COVID-19 infection was linked to a significantly greater increase in heart rate at rest after the first dose of vaccine compared to those without prior infection. This increase is consistent with a greater immune response expected for these individuals.

The results also show that women experienced greater changes in resting heart rate than men within five days of vaccination after the first dose, and those under 40 years of age experienced greater changes in resting heart rate than older people, but only after the second dose. .

Activity and sleep patterns appeared to be little affected by the first dose, but a significant decrease in activity and an increase in sleep from baseline were observed immediately after the second dose of vaccine.

“While the link between physiological response and immune response still requires further investigation, digital tracking could provide a new way to identify people who may not be responding optimally to the vaccine,” says Steven Steinhubl , MD, associate professor at Scripps Research and lead author. of the study.

“DETECT really shows the power of wearable sensor data to deepen our understanding of the many facets of COVID-19,” Quer says. “We hope to continue to expand this research by further expanding our study cohort, which will allow us to delve into important questions regarding breakthrough infections and other areas that are currently poorly understood.”

The npj Digital Medicine article, “Inter-individual variation in objective measurement of reactogenicity after COVID-19 vaccination via smartwatches and fitness bands” is authored by Giorgio Quer, Matteo Gadaleta, Jennifer Radin, Kristian Andersen, Katie- Baca-Motes, Edward Ramos, Eric Topol and Steven Steinhubl.

Research funding was provided by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health [UL1TR002550] and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases [U19AI135995].


Since its launch, the DETECT (Digital Engagement and Tracking for Early Control and Treatment) study has recruited more than 40,000 participants nationwide. The data that has been shared has provided scientists with valuable insights into various aspects of COVID-19 infection. Already, DETECT has led to several peer-reviewed publications that: show how wearable devices are able to detect COVID-19 infection; give valuable information about the long COVID; demonstrate how machine learning techniques can predict COVID-19 infection; and more. The team aims to develop tools to complement traditional public health interventions and build capacity to prevent and contain future pandemics. The Detect study is ongoing. Visit detect.scripps.edu to learn more.