How patients wrote ‘the first textbook’ on long COVID-19
When doctors began their journey to test for COVID-19, Dr. Bruce McArthur worked with many hospitals to ensure they would have what he calls a “magnificent disaster”.
“The vast majority of patients admitted with a fever do not get pneumonia because our tests are quite sensitive. They would never have been admitted, because no one would have thought they had a severe case of COVID-19,” he says.
Now, doctors and scientists have spent months analysing tests from a large, retrospective study and a small, in-hospital trial and have identified several new pieces of information that could help to develop a more sensitive test for COVID-19.
Here, they outline that progress.
1. There are only four confirmed patients
The first patient who was confirmed to have the disease in the United States was in a nursing home who tested positive after they were admitted for respiratory symptoms. The patient was treated for another illness and was sent home after testing positive.
Dr. Michael Blount, an infectious disease specialist and professor at New York University School of Medicine, says the nursing home patient was likely to have had a viral infection and was probably exposed at a nursing home.
“To me, it would have been like getting tested for tuberculosis in the days before we have a vaccine,” he says.
Dr. Blount suspects that the person was probably infected through a family member who worked with the patients or had close contact with them, but is unable to say how he was infected.
“We don’t know how it came to be in this home. What we don’t know is how it entered with an infected person,” he says. “The only thing we know for sure is four people had COVID-19, but we don’t know who they are or where they worked.”
2. Two of the patients had mild symptoms
The first case to be confirmed to have severe illness and a fatal outcome was a man who worked at a medical facility,