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A team of epidemiologists from the United Kingdom has determined that a set of seven symptoms, when detected together, are the best indicative of a possible infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the community.
The study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, reports that symptoms of loss or change of smell, loss or change of taste, fever, new persistent cough, chills, loss of appetite and muscle aches can be used to maximize detection of COVID-19.
However, the study notes that not all of these symptoms are currently used to determine eligibility for PCR testing.
To decide who should be tested in the United States, health professionals evaluate people based on their symptoms (mild or severe), underlying medical condition, or risk of exposure to the virus.
“To improve the rates of detection of positivity by PCR and, consequently, improve the control of viral transmission through isolation measures, we would propose to expand the list of symptoms used for classification to the seven symptoms that we identified,” wrote the authors.
The authors noted that “rapid detection” of coronavirus infection in the community is key to controlling transmission.
When measurement capacity is limited, the study notes that tests should be used in the “most efficient way possible,” including using the “most informative” symptoms to determine who to evaluate.
The study, conducted by researchers at Imperial College London, looked at positive throat and nose swab tests from 1,147,345 volunteers in England aged five years and over.
According to the study, the data was collected during eight rounds of tests conducted between June 2020 and January 2021 as part of the real-time assessment of community broadcasting, a series of studies that use home tests to improve understanding of how you are doing. progressing COVID-19 in the UK.
Participants were asked about their symptoms in the week before the test.
From this, the researchers determined the seven symptoms that can jointly predict COVID-19 positivity.
The researchers’ modeling suggests that using all seven symptoms to determine CRP test assignment would result in 30% to 40% of symptomatic individuals in England being eligible for a test, compared to 10%. current cent.
Furthermore, the study reported that if all those deemed eligible were screened, this would result in the detection of 70 to 75% of positive cases.
Study author and University College London professor Paul Elliot said “clear testing criteria” are needed as signs of COVID-19 infection include symptoms commonly found in other illnesses, such as influenza. .
“These findings suggest that many people with COVID-19 will not be tested and therefore will not isolate themselves, because their symptoms do not match those used in current public health guidelines to help identify infected people, ”Elliot said in a press release.
“I hope that our findings on the more informative symptoms mean that the testing program can take advantage of the available evidence, helping to optimize the detection of infected people,” he added.
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