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Scientists find 6 types of Covid-19 with different symptoms

Published Jul 20, 2020


CAPE TOWN - A recent study by Kings College London, finds 6 different types of Covid-19 with varying symptoms which will help predict patients with a higher risk of severe outcomes.

The study used an app where Covid-19 patients logged their symptoms with around 1,600 users taking part in the UK and US between March and April with a learning algorithm analysed the data and revealed 6 varying types of Covid-19. The algorithm was then tested again on another independent dataset with 1,000 patients from the UK, US and Sweden in May.

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"All people reporting symptoms experienced headache and loss of smell, with varying combinations of additional symptoms at various times. Some of these, such as confusion, abdominal pain and shortness of breath, are not widely known as Covid-19 symptoms, yet are hallmarks of the most severe forms of the disease", said Kings College London.

The six symptom clusters identified are as follows:

- (‘flu-like’ with no fever): Headache, loss of smell, muscle pains, cough, sore throat, chest pain, no fever.

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- (‘flu-like’ with fever): Headache, loss of smell, cough, sore throat, hoarseness, fever, loss of appetite.

- (gastrointestinal): Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, sore throat, chest pain, no cough.

- (severe level one, fatigue): Headache, loss of smell, cough, fever, hoarseness, chest pain, fatigue.

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- (severe level two, confusion): Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion, muscle pain.

- (severe level three, abdominal and respiratory): Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion, muscle pain, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, abdominal pain.

The team then went on to study whether patients who experienced one of the specific symptom clusters required breathing support such as oxygen support or ventilators.

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"They discovered that only 1.5 percent of people with cluster 1, 4.4 percent of people with cluster 2 and 3.3 percent of people with cluster 3 Covid-19 required breathing support. These figures were 8.6 percent, 9.9 percent and 19.8 percent for clusters 4,5 and 6 respectively. Furthermore, nearly half of the patients in cluster 6 ended up in hospital, compared with just 16 percent of those in cluster 1."

The study found that patients suffering from clusters 1, 2 and 3 were generally younger and healthier while patients experiencing symptom cluster 4, 5 and 6 they found to have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or lung disease, old-age or overweight.

The researches were then able to use all information to create a model helping identify patients within 5 days of the first symptoms which helps intervene and provide necessary healthcare at an earlier stage of the infection with the early support and medical intervention taking place 8 days sooner as most patients that require breathing support only admit to hospitals 13 days from their first symptoms.

Lead researcher Dr Carole Sudre from King’s College London said: ”Our study illustrates the importance of monitoring symptoms over time to make our predictions about individual risk and outcomes more sophisticated and accurate. This approach is helping us to understand the unfolding story of this disease in each patient so they can get the best care.”

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