Illness Trends As We Enter Cold & Flu Season

True or False: Reports of high COVID-19 spread indicate higher general sickness

Through our network of 2 million connected Kinsa smart thermometers across the country, we’ve created a unique dataset that tells us real-time temperatures and symptoms. This  allows us to track on an aggregate, anonymous level illness onset and duration, as well as how quickly illness is spreading. Kinsa’s data has been validated to accurately forecast flu 12-20 weeks in advance, as well as a leading indicator of COVID-19 case increases up to 3 weeks ahead

Back to our question: the answer is false, reports of high COVID-19 spread does not indicate higher general sickness. Through our dataset and analysis, we’ve confirmed that despite high levels of COVID-19, overall illness is down. Measuring what we call “influenza-like illness” (ILI) and based on our data tracking over the past eight years, we have established trends of where illness should be in certain seasons and times of year, down to the county level geographically. 

In a typical cold and flu season, 5-8% of the population is ill. Current data indicates we’re hovering at or below 1%, down significantly from 2019 and previous years. A year-over-over comparison of symptoms among adults and children supports this decrease as well: 

Year-to-date vs. Last Year
Symptom Total
Cough -16.3%
Ear ache -37.4%
Fever -33.5%
Nasal  -27.2%
Sore throat -28.6%


What this means: COVID-19 safety measures, like social distancing and wearing masks, are having a positive effect on the spread of other illnesses. Illness spread, outside of COVID-19, is much lower in 2020 than in previous years. 

Kinsa Insights are used by leading brands, retailers and pharma companies to understand current and forecasted illness trends to support supply chain and inventory forecasting, as well as digital marketing. In an unprecedented year like 2020, these insights continue to be crucial in keeping shelves stocked and supplies directed to the areas most in need.  

Interested in learning more? Watch our free on-demand webinar with RB, maker of Lysol and Mucinex: COVID-19: How to Proactively Manage the Impact of Future Hotspots.