New Research Identifies Six Potential Strains of COVID-19

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Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

There could be six distinct types of COVID-19, according to a new research from the King’s College, London, United Kingdom.

One of the initial conclusions from a team of researchers from the college is that the symptoms experienced in the first few days of a COVID-19 infection could help predict the course a patient’s illness will follow.

Their research identified six possible sub-divisions of COVID-19, using machine learning to analyse data from a symptom-tracking app.

These findings – from a pre-print paper, reflect how the thinking regarding the disease is evolving and how technologies are being leveraged to fight the disease.

The King’s College team scrutinised data from around 1,600 people with confirmed COVID-19 infections in the United Kingdom and United States of America.

Each had logged symptoms using an app in March and April. A second dataset of around 1,000 app users from the UK, US and Sweden who had logged their symptoms during May was also examined.

The researchers said they have been able to group symptoms into six divisions to study how unwell a patient could become.

The six underlining clusters are flu-like with no fever, indicating headache, loss of smell, muscle pains, cough, sore throat, chest pain, no fever.

The second is Flu-like with fever, manifesting headache, loss of smell, cough, sore throat, hoarseness, fever, loss of appetite;

The third is Gastrointestinal showing headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, diarrhea, sore throat, chest pain with no cough; the fourth variant is the severe level one with fatigue, headache, loss of smell, cough, fever, hoarseness, chest pain, fatigue.

Next is the severe level two, which comes with confusion, headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion, and muscle pain;

The sixth is severe level three manifesting abdominal and respiratory symptoms, with headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion, muscle pain, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain.

The six categories, according to the researchers, represented a spectrum of breathing difficulties, adding that understanding this range could help with clinical management and matching patients with the right care effectively and efficiently.

Analysing patient-provided information on symptoms and their outcomes, the research team said that while 16 per cent of group one patients were admitted to hospital, almost half of those in the last group were.

They also found that patients in group four, five and six tended to be older, and were more likely to have pre-existing conditions ranging from diabetes to obesity.