Include 4 More Symptoms to List That Triggers PCR Test in UK: Study

Include 4 More Symptoms to List That Triggers PCR Test in UK: Study
Medical staff testing people at a COVID-19 test centre in Chessington, UK, on April 2, 2020. (Toby Melville/Reuters)
Simon Veazey

The list of symptoms that prompts a CCP virus test in the UK should be expanded to include fatigue, headache, sore throat, and diarrhoea, according to researchers.

Currently, cough, fever, and loss or change in the sense of smell (anosmia) are the only symptoms that the healthcare system uses to assess whether people should go for a PCR test.

But that approach catches only 69 percent of cases, according to researchers at King’s College London.

They say that by adding fatigue, headache, sore throat, and diarrhoea to the diagnostic list, 96 percent of cases would be picked up.

Using data from over 122,000 people recording their symptoms on a phone app, they were able to build up a broader picture of the symptoms associated with people who later tested positive.

“We’ve known since the beginning that just focusing testing on the classic triad of cough, fever, and anosmia misses a significant proportion of positive cases,” said professor Tim Spector from the School of Life Course Sciences, who runs the survey.

“We identified anosmia as a symptom back in May and our work led to the government adding it to the list, it is now clear that we need to add more,” he said in a statement. “By inviting any users who log any new symptoms to get a test, we confirmed that there are many more symptoms of COVID-19.”

Specter says that for his team, the message is clear: “If you’re feeling newly unwell, it could be COVID and you should get a test.”

The ZOE COVID Symptom Study records people’s symptoms in real time, providing an up-to-the-minute snapshot of infections that has consistently foreshadowed infection surveys that follow a few days later.

The study has also found that people are more likely to have a headache and diarrhea within the first three days, but more likely to have a fever in the first seven days.

Claire Steves, Reader at the School of Life Course Sciences, said, “There are many symptoms which occur in acute COVID, including some like fatigue and headache which are also common in other conditions.

“Depending on the testing available, different symptom combinations can be used to be as sensitive or specific as possible,” she said in a statement.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson wrote in an email to The Epoch Times, “An expert scientific group keeps the symptoms of COVID-19 under review.”

“The main symptoms have been carefully selected to capture those most likely to have COVID-19, while not capturing a great number of people who do not.”

Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has reported for The Epoch Times since 2006 on various beats, from in-depth coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing on breaking news.
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