We know that people with certain comorbidities like diabetes, cancer and heart disease, as well as older people, are at higher risk of dying from COVID-19. It wasn’t believed, however, that those with COVID-19 might also have other respiratory illnesses like influenza, rhinovirus or adenovirus. New research indicates differently.
According to a Stanford University study published March 18, about 1 in five people diagnosed with COVID-19 are also infected with secondary respiratory viruses. The analysis is preliminary, but contradicts what has been commonly believed.
The analysis, led by Ian Brown, MD, who is a clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine, found something else as well. It seems that about 1 in ten people who go to the emergency room exhibiting symptoms of a common respiratory virus like influenza are also infected with COVID-19.
The findings challenge the assumption that people are unlikely to have COVID-19 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,” said Nigam Shah, MBBS, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and of biomedical data science at the medical school. “However, given the co-infection rates we’ve observed in this sample, that is an incorrect assumption.”
It’s universally agreed that a fast, accurate testing regimen for SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19 is necessary to slow the spread of the virus. It will also be important to understand the likelihood of co-infection in those diagnosed with COVID-19.
“Hospitals don’t have unlimited access to COVID testing,” Brown said . “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.”
The Stanford team analyzed 562 people who were tested for COVID-19 at the Marc and Laura Andreessen Emergency Department at Stanford Health Care. Of that number, 49 were positive for the virus.
Of the original number, 517 were also tested to see if they had another respiratory virus. They were looking for influenza A and B, rhinovirus, adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus and several pneumonias. 127 of those people tested positive for one of those other viruses.
Of the people tested for both SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses, eleven people—or about 22% of the 49 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 8.7% of the 127 people with other respiratory viruses—were found to be co-infected with both kinds of viruses.
It seems that no matter how much we learn about the SARS-CoV-2 COVID-19 virus, there’s a whole universe of information we still don’t know. The good news is that some of the smartest people in the world are very interested in getting to the bottom of this pandemic and its cause.
Keep the faith and keep after it!
Related Content –
COVID-19 Coronavirus May Spread More Easily Than We First Thought
COVID-19 Coronavirus And Patients With Heart Conditions
What Your Body Can Expect From A COVID-19 Coronavirus Infection