Researchers encourage the public to look out for new symptoms linked to Covid-19 Delta variant

June 15th, 2021

Researchers are encouraging the public to be wary of additional symptoms linked to the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus. 

Prof Tim Spector, who is in charge of the Zoe Covid Symptom study, suggested that headaches, a runny nose and a sore throat are now the most common symptoms reported. Prof Spector said that many people, particularly young adults, are reporting symptoms similar to that of a heavy cold.

Although symptoms may be mild, Prof Spector stressed that getting a test and isolating remain crucial, as the Delta variant is incredibly transmissible. Studies indicate that the variant, which was first spotted in India, is around 50% more transmissible than the previous dominant UK variant known as the Alpha variant. 

The NHS listed a persistent new cough, fever and loss of taste and/or smell as the primary symptoms to look out for towards the beginning of the outbreak but Prof Spector said that it is now much more common for people to experience symptoms similar to those of a cold. Prof Spector and his team have been analysing data collected through the Zoe study app, which has over 4 million participants across the country. 

Since the beginning of May, people have reported a more diverse range of symptoms, with fewer people developing the symptoms originally linked to Covid-19 and more app users recording symptoms, including a sore throat, headaches and a runny nose. Fever is still relatively common but a loss of taste and/or smell has fallen out of the top 10 symptoms. The Delta variant is now accountable for over 90% of new UK cases and case numbers have risen significantly in the last month. 

Prof Spector explained that a change in symptoms may be fuelling the spread of the virus, as people might assume that they just have a cold. Rather than getting tested and isolating, they may be spreading the virus without knowing by going to other people’s houses, attending outdoor events, going to work or college or using public transport. 

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