The skeptical cardiologist has previously reviewed the Oura ring as a sleep tracker. I found it fairly useless as a sleep or “readiness” tracker although I really enjoyed its design, wearability and user interface.
Many of the health claims Oura makes for its ring are unsubstantiated but recently they engaged in incredibly misleading and inaccurate marketing related to alleged capabilities of its ring to detect COVID-19 prior to symptoms.
I received an email from Oura recently which strongly implied that its ring could diagnose COVID-19 in patients prior to symptom development
The first paragraph implies that a major advance in COVID-19 diagnosis has been accomplished:
MORGANTOWN, W.VA. – The West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) and WVU Medicine, in conjunction with Oura Health, have addressed a major concern regarding the spread of COVID-19. The RNI has created a digital platform that can detect COVID-19 related symptoms up to three days before they show up.
Later in the article, this totally unreferenced and incredibly brazen statement is made:
The RNI platform uses the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute app, the Oura Ring, and artificial intelligence (AI)guided models to forecast and predict the onset of COVID-19 related symptoms (e.g. fevers, coughing, breathing difficulties, fatigue, and others) three days in advance with over 90 percent accuracy. This technology can potentially serve as a critical decision making tool to help contain the spread of the virus, safely re-open communities, strengthen the economy, and facilitate public health containment strategies.
Although no scientific references are given for this statement on the Oura website or the RNI website it appears to have come from a doctor at RNI:
“We are continuously monitoring the mind-body connectivity through our integrated neuroscience platform measuring the autonomic nervous system, fatigue, anxiety, circadian rhythms, and other human resilience and recovery functions,” Dr. Ali Rezai, executive chair of the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, said
With absolutely no data references, Rezai then makes the following statement:
“Our AI-driven models are currently predicting symptoms 24 hours prior to onset, and we are working toward a three-plus day forecast. This forecasting capability will help us get ahead of this pandemic; limit the spread to protect healthcare workers, their families, and our communities; and improve our understanding of health recovery.”
In an article published online on April 8, 2020 by West Virginia University Today, Rezai begins to sound like a salesman for Oura:
“We have done extensive research in the wearable space, and Oura’s accuracy and usability is unparalleled to anything we have tested,” Rezai added, “We are proud to partner with Oura and its innovation to serve our population.”
West Virginia University should be ashamed to have its employees making these types of unsubstantiated claims and Oura should modify its marketing material to make it clear that the Oura ring has no currently proven capability for early diagnosis of COVID-19.