The idea that many COVID cases are asymptomatic has many of us in the hope that we have already had and conquered the new coronavirus. This is a practical theory because if it is true, you could have developed antibodies and convinced yourself that the virus is not for you. Now a new study gives many Americans even more hope. Researchers at UCLA found evidence that the virus could have been circulating in the United States as early as the end of December, based on the rise of a common COVID symptom especially at the time: a host.The new study, published in Journal of Medical Internet Research, found a significant increase in health clinic and hospital visits in patients who reported respiratory symptoms as early as the week of December 22 and continued until February. Researchers examined data from the three hospitals and 180 clinics within the UCLA Health system and found that patients seeking medical attention due to coughing exceeded the prediction level of 95 percent during these months.
Researchers compared the number of patients who reported coughing with the average of the previous five seasons. Pr. 1,000 visits, they found that there were two more cough-related visits than usual to outpatient offices. Meanwhile, emergency departments experienced 19 more visits than usual, and hospital admissions with acute respiratory failure experienced 39 more visits than average. These figures show that a statistically significant increase in patients experiencing respiratory symptoms occurred from December to February in California.
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The most widely accepted timeline is that COVID started in December in China, according to a January study in Lancetand traveled to the rest of the world the following month. However, there are other studies that support the idea that the virus had been circulating long before that. 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 was published in Infection, genetics and evolution notes that COVID began circulating sometime between October 6 and December 11. If COVID was around as early as December 22, it would completely change the current timeline for Centers for Disease Control (CDC). According to the CDC, the first COVID case was a resident of Oregon who had returned from traveling to Wuhan and reported symptoms to a clinic on Jan. 19, according to New England Journal of MedicineWhile it is almost impossible to know for sure if you had COVID in December, this recent study presents a compelling argument that those with coughs in late 2019 could have battled the virus early in the pandemic. And for more symptoms that patients cannot shake, check out the 98 longest-lasting COVID symptoms you need to know about.
Gallery: 7 characters you just had COVID (ETNT Health)