Many people with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease (COVID-19), develop only mild and moderate symptoms. A small proportion of those infected develop severe symptoms that usually occur in people who are at higher risk due to comorbidities.
A new study by researchers at University College London has now found that 86 percent of people who tested positive for COVID-19 had no virus symptoms such as cough, fever and loss of taste or smell. The study results, collected by the UK Statistical Office for National Statistics, highlight the role of asymptomatic patients in the spread of the virus.
The data collection agency gathered information about coronavirus tests from thousands of UK households during the pandemic – households polled whether they developed symptoms or not.
“In order to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, it is important to identify those who are infectious. Little is known, however, about the proportion of infectious people who are asymptomatic and potentially “silent” senders. We assessed the value of the COVID-19 symptoms as a marker for SARS-CoV-2 infection using a representative English survey, ”the authors wrote in the article.
COVID-19 symptoms in infected people
The study, published in the journal Clinical Epidemiology, used data from the Coronavirus Infection Survey, a comprehensive population-based survey that looked at the relationship between coronavirus symptoms and test results.
Over 36,000 people in Northern Ireland, England and Wales were enrolled in the study, which was tested from April to June. Of the total participants, 0.32 percent of 115 people had a positive test result. From there, the team focused on these people to determine specific symptoms.
Of the 115 people who tested positive with SARS-CoV-2, 16 or 13.9 percent reported symptoms, while 99 people or 86.1 percent of patients reported no specific symptoms on the day of the test.
Also, 27 or 23.5 percent were symptomatic and 88 or 76.5 percent had no symptoms on the day of the test.
“COVID-19 symptoms are bad markers for SARS-CoV-2. For example, 76.5% of this random sample that tested positive reported no symptoms, and 86.1% did not report any of the COVID-19 specific. A more extensive testing program is needed to detect “silent” transmission and potentially prevent and reduce potential outbreaks, ”the team concluded in the study.
The researchers believe the study results can provide important information for ongoing and future testing programs.
“The fact that so many people who tested positive were asymptomatic on the day of a positive test result requires a change in future testing strategies. Further testing will help detect “silent” transmission and potentially prevent future outbreaks, “said Professor Irene Petersen of UCL Epidemiology & Health Care.
“Future testing programs should include frequent testing of a larger group of people, not just symptomatic cases, especially in high-risk environments or in places where many people work or live close together, such as in the office. B. meat factories or university halls. With university halls it can be especially important to test all students before they go home for Christmas, ”he added.
He also stated that pooled tests could impose a widespread testing strategy where multiple tests can be combined into one analysis. This could save them time and money instead of performing individual tests.
The UK is reporting a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, topping more than 564,000 cases and most recently 42,000 deaths. Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the UK is reporting exploding cases. On October 8, more than 17,540 new COVID-19 cases were registered per day, an increase of more than 3,000 from the previous day.
In addition, 77 people had died after testing positive for COVID-19 within 28 days. The number of patients admitted to hospital due to the infection rose from 2,944 the previous day to a whopping 3,044.
Globally, the number of cases has exceeded 36.44 million and the death toll has now exceeded 1 million.