Could non-classic symptoms indicate mild COVID?

April 28, 2020

Scientists Tim Spector, Claire Steves and researchers from Kings College London report the state of the nation’s reported symptoms as of 3pm on 27th March 2020.

We report the state of the nation’s reported symptoms as of 3pm on 27th March 2020. Most people of the 1.4 million users analysed yesterday afternoon reported being as healthy as normal. The vast majority of users who are unwell are putting up with their symptoms at home without burdening the NHS.  

Of those reporting symptoms, the commonest recorded was fatigue (50%), with 11% of those reporting severe fatigue which is laying them up in bed. Chest pain (29%), cough (28%) and shortness of breath (28%) come next, but other “newly reported” symptoms not previously associated with the classical disease such as hoarse voice (19%), loss of smell and taste (18%), loss of appetite (16%) and diarrhoea (16%) are also very common.

What we don’t know at this stage is precisely how many of these symptoms are due to COVID-19, as very few people in our sample report are actually being tested for SARS CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19.  We are looking at combinations of symptoms to see how they might cluster together.  We are passing our analyses on to the NHS so that the anonymised citizen science data can be incorporated into our national understanding.

What is going to be critical is seeing how these symptoms develop over the next few days in the population, and which symptoms are early indicators of future severe disease versus mild COVID-19 or other conditions. If we can do this we might be able to stop the spread.  So keep logging!

We will be giving updates on findings daily, and looking at what the risk factors for severe disease are in the UK. Early findings look like isolating yourself if you have health conditions might be paying off.  So let’s keep supporting ourselves by socially isolating, to keep the country and NHS safe.

A final thought is to spread the word and share devices with older friends and relatives, to make sure we know how they are doing too.  Our App captures 20-55 year-olds very well but we still need to do much more to reach the over 70s, who may need help accessing a phone or using the app.

Interested in more insights? Meet Claire Steves and Tim Spector on Mar 30, 2020 14:00 GMT/9:00 EST on a Zoom webinar. You can sign up here.

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