Persistent coughing in children is always a challenge, both for parents trying to describe and measure the cough, and for doctors making a diagnosis. In the current climate, this is all the more difficult, seeing as a continual cough is one of the major symptoms of COVID-19. UK Government guidance advises that anyone with a persistent cough should get a coronavirus test. But with the reopening of schools and the beginning of the cold & flu season both coinciding with a national shortage of tests available, should we all err on the side of caution and try to get a test at the first sign of a cough or sniffle, or can the data on cold virus symptoms help parents and GPs make an informed judgement on the likelihood that their child’s cough indicates COVID?
Tim Spector is a professor of Genetic Epidemiology, and director of the TwinsUK Registry, at King’s College London.
Edward Snelson is a paediatrician in the paediatric emergency department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.