Variation in global COVID-19 symptoms by geography and by chronic disease: A global survey using the COVID-19 Symptom Mapper.
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Background: COVID-19 is typically characterised by a triad of symptoms: cough, fever and loss of taste and smell, however, this varies globally. This study examines variations in COVID-19 symptom profiles based on underlying chronic disease and geographical location. Methods: Using a global online symptom survey of 78,299 responders in 190 countries between 09/04/2020 and 22/09/2020, we conducted an exploratory study to examine symptom profiles associated with a positive COVID-19 test result by country and underlying chronic disease (single, co- or multi-morbidities) using statistical and machine learning methods. Findings: From the results of 7980 COVID-19 tested positive responders, we find that symptom patterns differ by country. For example, India reported a lower proportion of headache (22.8% vs 47.8%, p<1e-13) and itchy eyes (7.3% vs. 16.5%, p=2e-8) than other countries. As with geographic location, we find people differed in their reported symptoms if they suffered from specific chronic diseases. For example, COVID-19 positive responders with asthma (25.3% vs. 13.7%, p=7e-6) were more likely to report shortness of breath compared to those with no underlying chronic disease. Interpretation: We have identified variation in COVID-19 symptom profiles depending on geographic location and underlying chronic disease. Failure to reflect this symptom variation in public health messaging may contribute to asymptomatic COVID-19 spread and put patients with chronic diseases at a greater risk of infection. Future work should focus on symptom profile variation in the emerging variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This is crucial to speed up clinical diagnosis, predict prognostic outcomes and target treatment. Funding: We acknowledge funding to AAF by a UKRI Turing AI Fellowship and to CEC by a personal NIHR Career Development Fellowship (grant number NIHR-2016-090-015). JKQ has received grants from The Health Foundation, MRC, GSK, Bayer, BI, Asthma UK-British Lung Foundation, IQVIA, Chiesi AZ, and Insmed. This work is supported by BREATHE - The Health Data Research Hub for Respiratory Health [MC_PC_19004]. BREATHE is funded through the UK Research and Innovation Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and delivered through Health Data Research UK. Imperial College London is grateful for the support from the Northwest London NIHR Applied Research Collaboration. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.
COVID symptom profile
COVID symptoms mapper
COVID symptoms survey
COVID-19, The Coronavirus Disease that first appeared in 2019 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
PCR, Polymerase chain reaction
WHO, World Health Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health.
License start date
EClinicalMedicine, 2022, 45 pp. 101317 -
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
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