Study confirms classic symptoms of COVID-19

July 8, 2020

A persistent cough and fever have been confirmed as the most prevalent symptoms associated with COVID-19, according to a major international review of patient data. Other major symptoms include fatigue, losing the ability to smell and difficulty in breathing. The study ratifies the list of symptoms compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) at the start of the pandemic.

A team of researchers, including a final year medical student from the University of Sheffield, combined data from 148 separate studies to identify the common symptoms experienced by more than 24,000 patients from nine countries including the UK, China and the U.S. The study – published in the online journal PLoS One – is one of the biggest reviews ever conducted into COVID-19 symptoms.

Of the 24,410 cases, the study found:

·        78 percent had a fever. This tended to vary across countries, with 72 percent of fever reported by patients in Singapore and 32 percent in Korea.

·         57 percent reported a cough. Again, this varied across countries, with 76 percent of patients reporting a cough in the Netherlands compared to 18 percent in Korea.

·         31 percent said they had suffered fatigue.

·         25 percent lost the ability to smell.

·         23 percent reported difficulty breathing.

The researchers believe the variation in the prevalence of symptoms between countries is due, in part, to the way data was collected.

Of those patients who needed hospital treatment, 17 percent needed non-invasive ventilation; 19 percent had to be looked after in an intensive care unit, nine percent required invasive ventilation and two percent needed extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (an artificial lung).

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