The Delta variant of Coronavirus has caused infections to spike in the UK once again and has halted the roadmap out of lockdown, pushing back the preposed ‘freedom day’ of 21st June. 75,953 Delta cases were sequenced in the UK up to 16th June, up from 42,323 the week before, and the variant is reportedly responsible for 90% of UK Covid cases.
While we’re probably all familiar with the classic Covid symptoms to look out for, reports are now saying that the Delta variant can present differently.
According to the NHS, the classic Covid symptoms we should be on the lookout for are:
- a new, continuous cough
- a high temperature
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
But Professor Tim Spector, who runs the Zoe Covid Symptom study, says that Delta can feel “more like a bad cold” for younger people, and that the three classic main symptoms may be less common now, according to the data his team have been receiving.
“Since the start of May, we have been looking at the top symptoms in the app users – and they are not the same as they were,” he says. “This variant seems to be working slightly differently.”
The Zoe app has received over 170 million health reports, where users log their symptoms, test results and whether they’ve been vaccinated.
The top three symptoms now seem to be:
- a sore throat
- a runny nose
These were followed by a fever and cough, meaning these two classic symptoms are now rarer. “We don’t even see loss of smell coming into the top 10 anymore,” Spector added.
Spector made it clear that we cannot get complacent. If you feel a bit rundown, don’t assume it’s just a seasonal cold – it’s best to get a Covid test straight away and stay at home, so that you avoid socialising and potentially spreading the virus.
Spector also emphasised that the vaccine will still protect us from the new variant. “If you are double-vaccinated, there is some reduction in protection, but it’s only very minor,” he says. “So your risk is still at least five- to ten-fold less if you’ve been double-vaccinated. We know from our data from the Zoe app that if you get it, you’re going to get a much milder, shorter-duration version, making it highly unlikely you’ll go to hospital.”