Primary Menu

Article written by Dr. Daliah

Some people with COVID may get a mild cough, some may suffer diarrhea, but some may suffer severe shortness of breath and confusion. These varying clinical presentations of a SARS-CoV-2 infection are no surprise to the medical community but were confusing to state officials, businesses and employers trying to screen customers or coworkers for COVID symptoms. Moreover may patients were concerned that some of their mild symptoms meant they were going to end up on a ventilator by week’s end.

So to simplify things, researchers from King’s College London analyzed 1600 COVID positive-patients’ symptoms, that were logged onto an app, and after cross analyzing these independently with 1000 more patients, they were able to define 6 types of COVID illness “Clusters.”

These are:

Cluster 1 “Flu-like with No Fever”

  • Headache
  • Loss of smell (anosmia)
  • Muscle aches (myalgias)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Chest tightness/pain

Cluster 2 “Flu-like with Fever”

  • Headache
  • Loss of smell (anosmia)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Fever
  • Loss of Appetite
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is influenza_2014_2015.jpg

Cluster 3 “Gastrointestinal” – no cough

  • Headache
  • Loss of smell (anosmia)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Chest tightness/pain

Cluster 4 “Severe Level 1 – Fatigue”

  • Headache
  • Loss of smell (anosmia)
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Hoarseness
  • Chest tightness/pain

Cluster 5 “Severe Level 2 – Confusion”

  • Headache
  • Loss of smell (anosmia)
  • Confusion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Chest tightness/pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain

Cluster 6 “Severe Level 3 – Abdominal and Respiratory”

  • Headache
  • Loss of smell (anosmia)
  • Confusion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Chest tightness/pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Shortness of Breath

Now even though some COVID patients may have mild cases with one or two of the above symptoms or even no symptoms, these defined “Clusters” help health officials find patterns to some of the more serious cases, allowing intervention sooner.

For example the researchers found the following:

“….only 1.5% of people with cluster 1, 4.4% of people with cluster 2 and 3.3% of people with cluster 3 COVID-19 required breathing support. These figures were 8.6%, 9.9% and 19.8% for clusters 4,5 and 6 respectively. Furthermore, nearly half of the patients in cluster 6 ended up in hospital, compared with just 16% of those in cluster 1.

Broadly, people with cluster 4,5 or 6 COVID-19 symptoms tended to be older and frailer, and were more likely to be overweight and have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or lung disease than those with type 1,2 or 3.

Once this paper becomes peer-reviewed, medical institutions may consider labeling one’s COVID infection as COVID Type 1, 2, etc., however in the meantime, we will need to continue to expand some of our data collection efforts to include analyses of common patterns, clusters, and clinical outcomes.