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PLoS Comput Biol ; 17(12): e1009629, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1581906


Identifying order of symptom onset of infectious diseases might aid in differentiating symptomatic infections earlier in a population thereby enabling non-pharmaceutical interventions and reducing disease spread. Previously, we developed a mathematical model predicting the order of symptoms based on data from the initial outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 in China using symptom occurrence at diagnosis and found that the order of COVID-19 symptoms differed from that of other infectious diseases including influenza. Whether this order of COVID-19 symptoms holds in the USA under changing conditions is unclear. Here, we use modeling to predict the order of symptoms using data from both the initial outbreaks in China and in the USA. Whereas patients in China were more likely to have fever before cough and then nausea/vomiting before diarrhea, patients in the USA were more likely to have cough before fever and then diarrhea before nausea/vomiting. Given that the D614G SARS-CoV-2 variant that rapidly spread from Europe to predominate in the USA during the first wave of the outbreak was not present in the initial China outbreak, we hypothesized that this mutation might affect symptom order. Supporting this notion, we found that as SARS-CoV-2 in Japan shifted from the original Wuhan reference strain to the D614G variant, symptom order shifted to the USA pattern. Google Trends analyses supported these findings, while weather, age, and comorbidities did not affect our model's predictions of symptom order. These findings indicate that symptom order can change with mutation in viral disease and raise the possibility that D614G variant is more transmissible because infected people are more likely to cough in public before being incapacitated with fever.

COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/virology , Models, Biological , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/epidemiology , China/epidemiology , Computational Biology , Cough/etiology , Diarrhea/etiology , Fever/etiology , Humans , Japan/epidemiology , Mutation , Nausea/etiology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Time Factors , United States/epidemiology , Vomiting/etiology
J Med Internet Res ; 23(6): e27348, 2021 06 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1259301


BACKGROUND: Overcoming the COVID-19 crisis requires new ideas and strategies for online communication of personal medical information and patient empowerment. Rapid testing of a large number of subjects is essential for monitoring and delaying the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in order to mitigate the pandemic's consequences. People who do not know that they are infected may not stay in quarantine and, thus, risk infecting others. Unfortunately, the massive number of COVID-19 tests performed is challenging for both laboratories and the units that conduct throat swabs and communicate the results. OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to reduce the communication burden for health care professionals. We developed a secure and easy-to-use tracking system to report COVID-19 test results online that is simple to understand for the tested subjects as soon as these results become available. Instead of personal calls, the system updates the status and the results of the tests automatically. This aims to reduce the delay when informing testees about their results and, consequently, to slow down the virus spread. METHODS: The application in this study draws on an existing tracking tool. With this open-source and browser-based online tracking system, we aim to minimize the time required to inform the tested person and the testing units (eg, hospitals or the public health care system). The system can be integrated into the clinical workflow with very modest effort and avoids excessive load to telephone hotlines. RESULTS: The test statuses and results are published on a secured webpage, enabling regular status checks by patients; status checks are performed without the use of smartphones, which has some importance, as smartphone usage diminishes with age. Stress tests and statistics show the performance of our software. CTest is currently running at two university hospitals in Germany-University Hospital Ulm and University Hospital Tübingen-with thousands of tests being performed each week. Results show a mean number of 10 (SD 2.8) views per testee. CONCLUSIONS: CTest runs independently of existing infrastructures, aims at straightforward integration, and aims for the safe transmission of information. The system is easy to use for testees. QR (Quick Response) code links allow for quick access to the test results. The mean number of views per entry indicates a reduced amount of time for both health care professionals and testees. The system is quite generic and can be extended and adapted to other communication tasks.

COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/psychology , Communication , Medical Informatics/organization & administration , Medical Informatics/standards , Pandemics , Patient Participation , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Germany , Humans , Time Factors
Front Public Health ; 8: 473, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-750727


COVID-19 is a pandemic viral disease with catastrophic global impact. This disease is more contagious than influenza such that cluster outbreaks occur frequently. If patients with symptoms quickly underwent testing and contact tracing, these outbreaks could be contained. Unfortunately, COVID-19 patients have symptoms similar to other common illnesses. Here, we hypothesize the order of symptom occurrence could help patients and medical professionals more quickly distinguish COVID-19 from other respiratory diseases, yet such essential information is largely unavailable. To this end, we apply a Markov Process to a graded partially ordered set based on clinical observations of COVID-19 cases to ascertain the most likely order of discernible symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, nausea/vomiting, and diarrhea) in COVID-19 patients. We then compared the progression of these symptoms in COVID-19 to other respiratory diseases, such as influenza, SARS, and MERS, to observe if the diseases present differently. Our model predicts that influenza initiates with cough, whereas COVID-19 like other coronavirus-related diseases initiates with fever. However, COVID-19 differs from SARS and MERS in the order of gastrointestinal symptoms. Our results support the notion that fever should be used to screen for entry into facilities as regions begin to reopen after the outbreak of Spring 2020. Additionally, our findings suggest that good clinical practice should involve recording the order of symptom occurrence in COVID-19 and other diseases. If such a systemic clinical practice had been standard since ancient diseases, perhaps the transition from local outbreak to pandemic could have been avoided.

COVID-19 , Models, Biological , Pandemics , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Markov Chains