A University of Sheffield medical student helped to confirm the most common COVID-19 symptoms in one of the biggest reviews into the subject yet.


After reviewing data from 148 separate studies including more than 24,000 patients, the team of seven researchers confirmed fever (experienced by 78% of patients) and a persistent cough (in 57% of patients) as the main symptoms of the virus. The study also found that 31% of patients said they had suffered fatigues, 25% lost the ability to smell and 23% reported difficulty breathing. The figures varied between countries but researchers believe this was affected by how data was collected in different studies.


Michael Grant, a final year medical student from the University of Sheffield, who helped with the study, said: “The impact of COVID-19 on daily activities has been immense. An accurate estimation of symptom prevalence, as provided by this study, is essential to combat COVID-19.”


The study, published in PLoS One, also concluded that approximately 1 in 5 test-positive adults never experienced a fever and fewer than 3 in 5 developed a cough. Since the patients in the included studies were likely moderately or severely affected by the disease, it is “likely that we overestimate the true prevalence of symptoms in the population”, the researchers say. Therefore, the team further concludes that “the use of symptoms alone to screening adults for SARS-CoV-2 infection is likely to miss a substantial number of infected individuals.“


Mr Ryckie Wade, a surgeon and Clinical Research Fellow at the Leeds Institute of Medical Research said: “This analysis confirms that cough and fever were the most common symptoms in people who tested positive with COVID-19. The study gives confidence to the fact that we have been right in identifying the main symptoms and it can help determine who should get tested.”


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