• 1 Department of Haematology, School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kelantan, Malaysia
  • 2 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Jahangirnagar University, Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • 3 West China School of Nursing, Frontiers Science Center for Disease-Related Molecular Network, West China Hospital, Institutes for Systems Genetics, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China
PLoS One, 2021;16(4):e0249788.
PMID: 33822812 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0249788


BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a pandemic disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 started to spread globally since December 2019 from Wuhan, China. Fever has been observed as one of the most common clinical manifestations, although the prevalence and characteristics of fever in adult and paediatric COVID-19 patients is inconclusive. We aimed to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to estimate the overall pooled prevalence of fever and chills in addition to fever characteristics (low, medium, and high temperature) in both adult and paediatric COVID-19 patients.

METHODS: The protocol of this systematic review and meta-analysis was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42020176327). PubMed, Scopus, ScienceDirect and Google Scholar databases were searched between 1st December 2019 and 3rd April 2020 without language restrictions. Both adult (≥18 years) and paediatric (<18 years) COVID-19 patients were considered eligible. We used random-effects model for the meta-analysis to obtain the pooled prevalence and risk ratio (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Quality assessment of included studies was performed using the Joanna Briggs Institute critical appraisal tools. Heterogeneity was assessed using the I² statistic and Cochran's Q test. Robustness of the pooled estimates was checked by different subgroups and sensitivity analyses.

RESULTS: We identified 2055 studies, of which 197 studies (n = 24266) were included in the systematic review and 167 studies with 17142 adults and 373 paediatrics were included in the meta-analysis. Overall, the pooled prevalence of fever in adult and paediatric COVID-19 patients were 79.43% [95% CI: 77.05-81.80, I2 = 95%] and 45.86% [95% CI: 35.24-56.48, I2 = 78%], respectively. Besides, 14.45% [95% CI: 10.59-18.32, I2 = 88%] of the adult COVID-19 patients were accompanied with chills. In adult COVID-19 patients, the prevalence of medium-grade fever (44.33%) was higher compared to low- (38.16%) and high-grade fever (14.71%). In addition, the risk of both low (RR: 2.34, 95% CI: 1.69-3.22, p<0.00001, I2 = 84%) and medium grade fever (RR: 2.79, 95% CI: 2.21-3.51, p<0.00001, I2 = 75%) were significantly higher compared to high-grade fever, however, there was no significant difference between low- and medium-grade fever (RR: 1.17, 95% CI: 0.94-1.44, p = 0.16, I2 = 87%). 88.8% of the included studies were of high-quality. The sensitivity analyses indicated that our findings of fever prevalence for both adult and paediatric patients are reliable and robust.

CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of fever in adult COVID-19 patients was high, however, 54.14% of paediatric COVID-19 patients did not exhibit fever as an initial clinical feature. Prevalence and risk of low and medium-grade fevers were higher compared to high-grade fever.

* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.