COVID-19 Coronavirus Symptoms Revealed In JAMA Study!

A new JAMA-published study by Dawei Wang et al reveals the key symptoms of patients infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Their study will serve as a useful guide for clinicians and public health officials trying to differentiate it from influenza.

Note : This article was originally published on 9 February 2020, and was updated and republished due to reader interest.


COVID-19 | SARS-CoV-2 : A Quick Explainer

First of all, we should clarify that SARS-CoV-2 is the official name of 2019-nCoV, in recognition of how closely it resembles the SARS virus, genetically.

The disease it causes is called COVID-19, which is short for Coronavirus Disease 2019).

COVID-19 should be used when you refer to the disease, and SARS-CoV-2 when referring to the virus. But for ease of understanding, we may use COVID-19 coronavirus to replace SARS-CoV-2.


COVID-19 Coronavirus : Key Symptoms!

The highly-anticipated study by Dawei Wang et al, titled Clinical Characteristics of 138 Hospitalized Patients With 2019 Novel Coronavirus-Infected Pneumonia In Wuhan, China was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on 7 February 2020.

It looked at the clinical characteristics of 138 patients who were hospitalised at the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, from 1 January to 28 January 2020.

Top 5 Symptoms Of COVID-19 Coronavirus Patients

Their study showed that fever is the chief symptom, and there were very few reports of headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting.

Dry cough was reported by just over half the patients, and only about ⅓ reported muscle pain. And no one reported a runny or stuffy nose.

This will help to clinically differentiate COVID-19 from the far more common influenza.

Here are the top 5 symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus that the study identified from those 138 patients :

Top 5 Symptoms No. Of Patients % Of Patients
Fever 136 98.6%
Fatigue 96 69.6%
Dry Cough 82 59.4%
(Muscle Pain)
48 34.8%
(Shortness of Breath)
43 31.2%

Top 5 Symptoms Of COVID-19 Coronavirus Patients Requiring ICU Care

Interestingly, they also looked at the symptoms that are more common in patients who ended up requiring ICU care.

They are more likely to lose significant weight and suffer shortness of breath, compared to patients who did not require ICU care.

Here are the top 5 symptoms in patients requiring ICU care. Note that a P value of < 0.05 is considered statistically significant.

Symptoms ICU Non-ICU P Value
Anorexia 66.7% 30.4% < 0.001
(Shortness of Breath)
63.9% 19.6% < 0.001
Dizziness 22.2% 4.9% 0.007
(Pain in Pharynx)
33.3% 11.8% 0.003
Abdominal Pain 8.3% 0.0% 0.02

Dr. Li Wenliang, one of 8 doctors who blew the whistle on the Wuhan coronavirus


COVID-19 Coronavirus : What Treatments Did The Chinese Try?

The study also looked at the treatments the Chinese tried with those 138 patients.

While they noted that many patients received antibiotic cover, the key treatments they trialed against the Wuhan coronavirus were Tamiflu (oseltamivir), oxygen support, and glucocorticoid therapy.

Treatment No. Of Patients % Of Patients
Antiviral (Oseltamivir) 124 89.9%
Oxygen 106 76.8%
Glucocorticoid 62 44.9%

Just before the report was released, they did a final follow-up on 3 February 2020, and found that :

  • 47 patients (34.1%) recovered, and had been discharged
  • 85 patients (61.6%) were still hospitalised
  • 6 patients (4.3%) died

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COVID-19 Coronavirus : How To Keep Safe!

The COVID-19 coronavirus is new and scary, but we are more likely to be infected and killed by the influenza virus.

We just need to practice a few simple steps to stay safe :


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