The idea that many COVID cases are asymptomatic causes many of us to hold onto hope that we have already had and won the novel coronavirus. It’s a convenient theory because, if it were true, you could have developed antibodies and convinced yourself that the virus cannot compete with you. Now, a new study is giving many Americans even more hope. UCLA researchers found evidence that the virus could have circulated in the United States as early as the end of December, based on an increase in a common COVID symptom particularly at the time: a coughThe new study, published in Journal of Medical Internet Research, He found a significant increase in clinical and hospital visits of patients who reported respiratory symptoms as early as the week of December 22 and through February. The researchers looked at data from the three hospitals and 180 clinics within the UCLA health system and found that patients who sought medical care due to a cough exceeded the 95% prediction level in those months.
The researchers compared the number of patients who reported a cough with the average of the previous five seasons. For 1,000 visits, they found that there were two more cough-related visits than normal in the clinics. Meanwhile, emergency departments registered 19 more visits than usual, and hospitalizations for acute respiratory failure registered 39 more visits than the average. These numbers show that a statistically significant increase in patients with respiratory symptoms occurred from December to February in California.
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The most commonly accepted timeline is that COVID began in December in China, according to a January study in The Lancetand traveled to the rest of the world the following month. However, there are other studies that support the idea that the virus circulated much earlier. A study in International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents reports that there was a patient in France with COVID at the end of December and another study published in Infection, genetics and evolution notes that COVID began circulating between October 6 and December 11. If COVID was around as early as December 22, this completely alters the current timeline of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, the first COVID case was an Oregon resident who had returned from a trip to Wuhan and reported symptoms to a clinic on Jan.19, according to The New England Journal of MedicineWhile it’s nearly impossible to know for sure if you had COVID in December, this recent study convincingly argues that those with a cough in late 2019 could have battled the virus at the start of the pandemic. And for more symptoms that patients can’t shake, check out the 98 Longest Lasting COVID Symptoms You Need to Know.
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