Many of you know that Kinsa was started with a public health mission at its core, to help track and stop the spread of infectious illness. Today we advance that vision as we launch what I believe is a critical tool to help respond to the current public health crisis facing our country and the world.
We’ve built an early warning system showing where there are unusually high and growing levels of fever. This system is meant to guide public health first-responders to the areas needing further investigation and resources, because something outside of the ordinary is happening.
We’ve done our best to make this tool easily accessible. The data is displayed as a map showing current illness levels throughout the United States. We’ve also created another view that highlights areas where illness levels are higher than typically expected at this point in the flu season.
While we cannot definitively say this is showing COVID-19, we CAN say that we are seeing unusually rapid spread in illness. Today, that is presumably COVID-19. It is imperative we start to use this system, and similar tools, to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ultimately prevent the next outbreak.
The two underlying scientific breakthroughs – a new forecasting model and the atypical illness signal – have not yet completed a full peer review, which is customary for any such innovation. In ordinary times, we would have launched this system after just such an exhaustive scientific review.
We are not living in ordinary times.
For the scientific community – We will be posting the concept and science notes to MedRXiv as soon as possible. We are submitting to peer review in parallel, and are transparently sharing all the science that underlies our breakthrough because it is the right thing to do.
My request to the scientific and public health community is this: Please interrogate our system and confirm that its utility is high. We’ve tried to do our own stress-testing, but further scrutiny is needed.
For users of Kinsa – We could not have made this breakthrough without you. Thank you for putting your trust in Kinsa to do the right thing. We hope this serves as a tool to focus resources where they are most needed. We believe that you, as co-owners and co-producers of the data, deserve access to this as well.
On a personal note – I am incredibly humbled and a bit overwhelmed by how hard our team has worked over the past few weeks. It is truly a testament to how passionate we are about this mission.
The team has been working from home, around the clock, in many cases while caring for their children simultaneously, with schools and daycares shut. At least our conference calls have been entertaining during these long days!
Thank you in advance for your support, thank you for scrutinizing our work, and thank you for helping us improve it. This is perhaps the most important thing we’ve ever done, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Founder and CEO, Kinsa
We couldn’t have done this with out the following people:
The scientific breakthrough that enabled this system is due to Benjamin Dalziel at Oregon State University. In Ben’s words, “we broke the forecasting barrier.”
The anomaly detection system we show in this map was driven by Sam Chamberlain, with strong support from Kinsa’s data science and engineering teams.
The product you see here on screen, while still a work in progress, has been developed by Daniel Doherty with strong support from Kinsa’s product and design teams.
Who leads our data science team and made sure the product we launched was seamless and high quality.
My trusted colleague with whom I’ve worked for over a decade who continues to guide product at Kinsa and without whom none of this would be possible.