The UK has today been accused of playing catch up with the rest of the world when it comes to spotting Covid-19 after the US added three new symptoms to its official coronavirus list.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its website to include diarrhoea, nausea and a runny or blocked nose, to make it easier for patients and doctors to recognise the illness.
It now warns of 11 primary symptoms, including fatigue, body aches, headache, sore throat and shortness of breath — but admits the virus can cause an array of other side effects.
The NHS, on the other hand, still only recognises three tell-tale signs of the infection — a high temperature, continuous cough and loss of smell or taste.
It suggests only people with these three symptoms may have Covid-19 and therefore should self-isolate and get tested.
This means Britons suffering from the virus’ less common symptoms are not getting access to swabs and may be continuing to pass the virus to others.
Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King’s College London, said Britain was missing ‘the majority of cases’ because it was ‘out of line with the rest of the world’.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recognises 11 Covid-19 symptoms
The UK has been accused of missing ‘the majority’ of Covid-19 cases because it still only recognises three tell-tale signs of the infection (the NHS website, shown)
Professor Spector told MailOnline: ‘The UK’s limited list of symptoms is out of line with the rest of the world and an important reason we are failing to detect the majority of new cases and pick them up in the first few days.
‘Our Covid symptom study app lists 19 symptoms and we are continuing to add to the list — so the public know what to look for.’
Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King’s College London, said Britain was ‘out of line with the rest of the world’ when it came to recognising the disease
PROFESSOR SPECTOR SAYS COVID-19 HAS AT LEAST 19 SYMPTOMS
Professor Spector and researchers from King’s College London have developed a symptom-tracking app which has seen millions of Britons sign up and report their symptoms.
The full list of symptoms, in order of how predictive they are of the disease, include:
1. Loss of smell/taste
2. Persistent cough
4. Loss of appetite
5. Skin rash
8. Severe muscle pain
9. Shortness of breath
12. Abdominal pain
13. Chest pain
14. Hoarse voice
15. Eye soreness
16. Sore or painful throat
17. Nausea or vomiting
19. Dizziness or light headedness
Professor Spector and researchers from KCL have developed a symptom-tracking app, which has seen millions of Britons sign up and report their symptoms since the start of the crisis.
He said data — based on users who test positive for the virus — had shown the infection can cause up to 19 symptoms, and more are emerging every month.
The CDC revised its Covid-19 symptom list on May 13 without making an official announcement, according to Colorado-based online news site Our Community Now.
The website says the 11 symptoms may appear between two and 14 days infection but adds that the list does not include all symptoms.
A footnote on the site says the CDC ‘will continue to update this list as we learn more about Covid-19’.
Meanwhile, the NHS website only lists three main symptoms and makes no reference to the fact the disease can cause an array of side effects.
Professor Spector added that only people with those three symptoms get tested and end up being included in the official statistics.
He said: ‘All this governmental data on confirmed cases and how many people have recovered, it’s all nonsense.’
The NHS, like the majority of health bodies around the globe, originally recognised just two Covid-19 symptoms — a dry and persistent cough and a fever.
But a mountain of evidence emerged in the months after the initial outbreak in China showing the virus caused rarer symptoms.
The UK dug its heels in for months before finally adding a loss of smell and taste as official signs of the disease in May. But it only did so after mounting pressure from experts like Professor Spector.
The CDC, by comparison, warned Americans of eight official symptoms on its website by April.
Analysis of NHS hospital records show a cough, fever and shortness of breath are the three most common symptoms, with seven out of 10 patients suffering at least one of the three.
But up to a third of patients also experience respiratory problems, stomach pains and musculoskeletal symptoms — including muscle and joint pain, and fatigue.
A smaller number experience headaches, ear pain, delirium and sore eyes, according to Professor Spector.
An NHS spokesperson said the health service’s website was based on the latest Public Health England guidance around Covid symptoms.
Professor Spector’s app predicts 2,300 Britons are being struck down with the coronavirus every day.
The COVID Symptom Tracker app estimates that cases in the UK have shrunk by a third in the space of a week. For comparison, daily infections were above 11,000 last month.
The researchers, working alongside health tech company ZOE, have collected data on symptoms and test results from one million UK citizens since the crisis began to unfold.
Last week they used this data to estimate that there were 3,612 people catching the virus every day in Britain — 35 per cent more than today’s figure of 2,341.
Most of the new cases — 1,978 — are appearing in England, the team said, along with 241 per day in Wales and 122 in Scotland. No estimates are made for Northern Ireland, however.
The data suggests the virus is spreading most widely in the Midlands, which is experiencing 716 daily cases, above the 330 in the North East and Yorkshire and 319 in the East of England.
King’s College London ‘s COVID Symptom Tracker app estimates that just 2,341 Britons are being struck down with the coronavirus every day. Last week they used this data to estimate that there were 3,612 people catching the virus every day in Britain and roughly 4,942 people the week before that. The figure was higher than 11,000 per day a month ago
The scientists running the project claimed the steady decline showed the crisis was ‘tailing off’ but warned people need to be ‘cautious when heading back to normal life’.
Professor Spector said: ‘With lockdown being eased over the last few weeks and more changes soon to come it’s interesting to see that we are now seeing a tail off in the decline.
‘With Covid-19 very much still in the population it’s really important that the UK continues to be cautious when it comes heading back to normal life.
‘If we want to make this lifting of lockdown a success everyone needs to educate themselves on Covid-19 such as knowing all 19 symptoms that are associated with Covid-19.
‘Especially important is the first few days when cases are being missed when it is important to self isolate if unwell and getting tested rapidly.
‘Also using technology like our app will give us valuable data and help us build a clearer picture of how much Covid-19 is in the population at any one given time, which will help us catch any potential second waves sooner rather than later.’
The team running the mobile app ‘Covid-19 Symptom Tracker’ have been collecting data from people self-reporting symptoms and test results for months.
Data in this week’s update was taken from one million people’s self-reports on their own health, and the results of on 14,422 swab tests taken by app users.
People are asked to log on regularly to report whether they have any signs of illness or whether they feel healthy.
They are asked to get tested if they have symptoms that may be linked to Covid-19, and to report the results of the test.
Because of this, the app cannot reliably track the number of people who are catching the virus but not developing symptoms, which may be thousands more.
The estimate does not include Northern Ireland or care homes, where the virus is still thought to be spreading, meaning the true rate could be much higher.