People who get infected with this virus may have no symptoms at all or have very mild and barely noticeable flu-like symptoms. However, some may have a high fever and respiratory symptoms like cough, difficulty in breathing, and sore throat. In severe cases, respiratory symptoms can worsen over a short period of time and lead to fulminant lung disease necessitating admission to intensive care and ventilatory support. Generally, children have milder diseases than adults but they can transmit the virus to older people around them. People who are more likely to have severe COVID-19 disease are the elderly and those with chronic diseases. These include individuals living with sickle cell disease and other blood disorders, chronic lung disease, kidney failure on dialysis, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and those receiving drugs that decrease their immunity or who have undergone bone marrow or solid organ transplant.
In sickle cell disease, additional symptoms and signs not related to the respiratory system as severe pain and increasing pallor may be seen with Coronavirus infections. It is known that viral infections such as the flu can trigger vaso-occlusive crises (pain, acute chest syndrome) and lead to a sudden drop in hemoglobin in persons affected with sickle cell disease.
While there is currently no accurate scientific data to show that patients with sickle cell disease are more likely to have severe COVID-19 disease, various studies have shown that individuals with sickle cell disease typically have a weakened immune system. As such, the GASCDO encourages individuals and families with sickle cell disease to take every precautionary measure.