28 September (WNN) — An analysis published Tuesday by PLOS Medicine found that seven symptoms can be used to diagnose COVID-19, especially in areas where testing kits are in short supply.
People with all seven symptoms — loss or change in their sense of smell, loss or change in taste, fever, persistent cough, chills, loss of appetite and muscle aches — more than 75% of the times tested positive for the virus. data shown.
Researchers at Imperial College London said that using the seven symptoms as the basis for a test recommendation, 30% to 40% of symptomatic individuals in England would be eligible for evaluation.
If all those eligible were tested, then 70% to 75% of positive COVID-19 cases would be detected, he said.
“If we were to test everyone reporting at least one of these seven symptoms, up to 75% of symptomatic cases would be identified, therefore improving control of the spread of the epidemic,” study co-authors Mark Chado-Hayam told WNN in an email.
“Where testing capacity is limited, focusing on using these seven traits for triage will optimize positive detection rates,” said Chadeau-Hyam, professor of computational epidemiology and biostatistics at Imperial College.
COVID-19 is diagnosed using PCR analysis of saliva samples collected from the nose and throat, which is used to detect genetic material from a specific organism — in this case, the coronavirus — according to the CDC. According.
China reportedly submitted genetic samples of the coronavirus to the World Health Organization in January, when it first emerged in Wuhan, and tests were soon developed and made available.
However, faulty tests delivered by the CDC in March last year, and a lack of adequate testing supplies, meant that many COVID-19 cases in the United States went undiagnosed.
An analysis published last month by the journal Nature estimated that 60% of cases have been missed in the United States alone, increasing the spread of the virus.
For this study, Chadeau-Hayam and colleagues obtained throat and nose swabs with valid COVID-19 PCR test results from more than 1.5 million volunteers aged 5 and older in England.
The data was collected over eight trial rounds conducted between June 2020 and January 2021 and participants were asked about symptoms they experienced in the week before the test.
Based on their findings, England should “expand the list of traits used for triage”. [include] We identified all seven symptoms,” the researchers said.
Chadeau-Hayam and colleagues said that people who have a loss of smell or changes in their sense of taste, fever and new, persistent cough are recommended for PCR testing.
Because England only uses four symptoms as its basis for testing, expanding the list will help “improve the control of viral transmission” through earlier and more widespread implementation of “isolation measures” such as quarantines, according to the researchers. Will happen.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention broadly recommends PCR testing of anyone with COVID-19 symptoms.
Agency symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, tiredness, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or Includes vomiting and diarrhea.
The test is recommended for anyone in close contact – within a total of 15 minutes or 6 feet in a 24-hour period – with someone who has confirmed COVID-19.
“New persistent cough, fever, loss or change of smell or taste, chills, loss of appetite, muscle aches … are the most predictive of COVID-19,” Chadeau-Hayam said.
“All of these symptoms combined contributed to an increased risk of testing positive, and those experiencing more than one symptom had a higher risk of testing positive than those reporting only one symptom,” he said.