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Internet Search Patterns Reveal Clinical Course of COVID-19 Disease Progression and Pandemic Spread Across 32 Countries (NPJ Digital Medicine)

Publication Topics

California Health Interview Survey; 2015 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS 2015); 2016 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS 2016); Health Promotion/Disease Prevention Issues; COVID-19; Health Status and Conditions

Publication Type

CHIS Journal Article

Publication Date


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<a onclick="OpenPopUpPage('http:\u002f\\u002f_layouts\u002flistform.aspx?PageType=4\u0026ListId={7AAD61FA-4BCB-48C0-B0B7-87AFDC3673EF}\u0026ID=1899\u0026RootFolder=*', RefreshPage); return false;" href=";ListId={7AAD61FA-4BCB-48C0-B0B7-87AFDC3673EF}&amp;ID=1899&amp;RootFolder=*">Tina Lu</a>

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Summary: Effective public health response to novel pandemics relies on accurate and timely surveillance of pandemic spread, as well as characterization of the clinical course of the disease in affected individuals. Authors sought to determine whether Internet search patterns can be useful for tracking COVID-19 spread, and whether these data could also be useful in understanding the clinical progression of the disease in 32 countries across six continents. Temporal correlation analyses were conducted to characterize the relationships between a range of COVID-19 symptom-specific search terms and reported COVID-19 cases and deaths for each country from Jan. 1 through April 20, 2020.

Findings: Increases in COVID-19 symptom-related searches preceded increases in reported COVID-19 cases and deaths by an average of 18.53 days and 22.16 days, respectively. Cross-country ensemble averaging was used to derive average temporal profiles for each search term, which were combined to create a search-data-based view of the clinical course of disease progression. Internet search patterns revealed a clear temporal pattern of disease progression for COVID-19: Initial symptoms of fever, dry cough, sore throat and chills were followed by shortness of breath an average of 5.22 days after initial symptom onset, matching the clinical course reported in the medical literature.

This study shows that Internet search data can be useful for characterizing the detailed clinical course of a disease. These data are available in real-time at population scale, providing important benefits as a complementary resource for tracking pandemics, especially before widespread laboratory testing is available.

Authors refer to a study using 2015–2016 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) data. 


Article 1

Journal Article: Internet Search Patterns Reveal Clinical Course of COVID-19 Disease Progression and Pandemic Spread Across 32 Countries

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Press Release

Related Link 1

Related Journal Article: Profiles of a Health Information-Seeking Population and the Current Digital Divide: Cross-Sectional Analysis of the 2015-2016 California Health Interview Survey

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California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)

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Version: 3.0
Created at 5/18/2021 10:46 AM by i:0#.f|uclachissqlmembershipprovider|celeste
Last modified at 6/14/2021 3:26 PM by i:0#.f|uclachissqlmembershipprovider|venetia