Research suggests fever may not be effective indicator of COVID-19

Temperature checks have become a regular part of life these days, but early findings from a major UCSF study demonstrate that fever may not be an effective indicator of the coronavirus.

This comes from a study of about 1,300 pregnant people who have tested positive for the coronavirus, but Dr. Vanessa Jacoby, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at UCSF and study author, says some of the conclusions apply to the population at large.

“Fever was very uncommon as a first symptom. Only 12% of participants said that they had a fever as their first symptom,” she said.

The most common early symptom was cough, followed by a sore throat.

While other studies have emphasized fever as an indicator of the virus, Dr. Jacoby says the difference in her study is not that the subjects are pregnant, it is that they are treating their illnesses at home.

“Many of those studies really focused on people in the hospital. And that’s generally because those can be the most convenient and easy people to study because they’re in a healthcare facility,” she explained.

But patients who are sick enough to be hospitalized are also experiencing more severe forms of the disease.

So the message to pregnant people, and all of us, is, “you shouldn’t wait to have a fever to feel concerned you might have COVID-19.”