A preliminary analysis led by Ian Brown, a clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine, has revealed that about 1 in 5 people suffering from COVID-19 are also infected with other respiratory viruses.
The study, which analysed 562 people recently tested for coronavirus, also found that approximately 1 in 10 people diagnosed with a common respiratory virus are co-infected with COVID-19.
This runs counter to a myth alleging that people will unlikely catch the coronavirus if they have another type of viral respiratory disease
“Currently, if a patient tests positive for a different respiratory virus, we believe that they don’t have COVID-19. However, given the co-infection rates we’ve observed in this sample, that is an incorrect assumption, Nigam Shah, MBBS, PhD, associate professor of medicine and of biomedical data science at the medical school, said referring to the study.
Ian Brown, the school’s clinical associate professor of emergency who led the study, said in turn that hospitals “don’t have unlimited access to COVID testing” and that “in some cases, a patient with respiratory symptoms may first be tested for a non-COVID virus”.
“If there is a diagnosis of influenza or rhinovirus, or other respiratory virus, a hospital may discharge the patient without COVID testing, concluding that the alternative diagnosis is the reason for the symptoms”, he added.
The remarks come after Italian virologist Roberto Burioni told the news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) that one should not count on expectations that warmer weather in the summertime will add to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We just don't know”, he said, underscoring the need to comply with the coronavirus-related restrictions introduced by a spate of countries in Europe and beyond.
Medical experts earlier warned not to rely on the assumption that an ability to hold one's breath for more than 10 seconds is allegedly a test for coronavirus.
The COVID-19 pandemic, the first cases of which were registered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December, has already spread to 177 countries. According to the World Health Organisation’s latest estimates, there are more than 690,000 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, with over 33,000 deaths.