The novel coronavirus was first detected in the United States in late January. In six months’ time, the number of cases in the U.S. has grown from that first identified case to 3.4 million identified cases.
The virus has killed more than 140,000 as of the middle of July.
During those six months, scientists have learned a lot about the virus, yet researchers face the fact that information about COVID-19 changes rapidly.
What science is now getting better at is looking at who is more likely to contract the virus and which symptoms of COVID-19 present themselves, or, in some instances, which remain silent.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week published a list of the most common symptoms health care professionals are seeing in patients with the novel coronavirus.
The CDC study included 164 people in 16 states who have confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus between Jan. 14 and April 4. Here are their findings:
96% of patients had a fever, cough or shortness of breath.
45% had all three of those symptoms.
84% had the most common symptom – a cough.
80% had a fever, the second most common symptom.
More than 50% of patients experienced: cough, fever, myalgia or muscle pain (63%), chills (63%), fatigue (62%), headache (59%) and shortness of breath (57%).
In addition, approximately half of patients reported one or more GI symptoms; among these, diarrhea was reported most frequently (38%) and vomiting (13%).
3% reported experiencing no symptoms.
56% of patients in the study were male.
61% were not hospitalized – all over the age of 18.
The median patient age was 50 years; the youngest was 1 month old, the oldest was 95.
CDC researchers pointed out that of the people involved in the study 96% showed one or more symptoms.
A study out of the United Kingdom and published in the online journal PLOS One showed similar results.
Researchers from five universities, including the University of Leeds in the UK, looked at 148 separate studies to identify the common symptoms experienced by more than 24,000 patients from nine countries with COVID-19, including the UK, China and the US.
The results of the study showed:
- 78% of patients had a fever.
- 57% reported a cough.
- 31% said they had suffered fatigue.
- 25% lost the ability to smell.
- 23% reported difficulty breathing.
Here is the CDC’s updated list of symptoms and the percentage of novel coronavirus positive people who have reported experiencing the symptoms:
- Fever (83-99%).
- Cough (59-82%).
- Fatigue (44-70%).
- Loss of appetite (40-84%).
- Shortness of breath (31-40%).
- Sputum production (28-33%).
- Muscle aches (11-35%)
In addition to those symptoms, the CDC added these potential COVID-19 symptoms:
- Chills that cause prolonged shaking
- Loss of taste or smell
Who is more likely to get the disease?
According to the United Kingdom National Health Service, those more likely to get the virus include:
- People in their 50s are at higher risk for severe illness; risk goes up as age increases.
- People ages 85 and older are at the greatest risk.
- People living in long-term care facilities, and those of any age who have an underlying health condition are at high risk for serious illness.
Underlying conditions are defined as:
- Have had an organ transplant.
- Are having chemotherapy or antibody treatment for cancer, including immunotherapy.
- Are having an intense course of radiotherapy (radical radiotherapy) for lung cancer.
- Are having targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system (such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors).
- Have blood or bone marrow cancer (such as leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma).
- Have had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant in the past six months, or are still taking immunosuppressant medicine.
- Have been told by a doctor they have a severe lung condition (such as cystic fibrosis, severe asthma or severe COPD).
- Have a condition that means they have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID or sickle cell).
- Are taking medicine that makes them much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids or immunosuppressant medicine).
- Have a serious heart condition and are pregnant.
- Men seem to get the virus at a rate greater than women.
- Those with blood type O seem to get the virus less.