Covid: Delta variant lacks 'classic' symptoms and may feel more 'like a bad cold'

14 June 2021, 21:33

Data from the ZOE Covid app has suggested the Delta variant feels more like a "bad cold" in younger people
Data from the ZOE Covid app has suggested the Delta variant feels more like a "bad cold" in younger people. Picture: PA

By Daisy Stephens

The Delta variant may involve different symptoms to those the NHS advise the public to look out for, according to the ZOE Covid Symptom Study.

Data from the app, which millions of people in the UK use to log their symptoms, has shown that the Delta Covid variant is likely to have symptoms more akin to “a bad cold” in young people, where the primary rises in infections are being seen.

“Covid is acting differently now – it’s more like a bad cold in this younger population, and people don’t realise that and that hasn’t come across in any of the government information,” Professor Spector said in his coronavirus update.

“Since the start of May we have been looking at the top symptoms in all the app users and they are not the same as they were… the number one symptom is headache, then followed by sore throat, runny nose and fever.”

Professor Spector said that the “classic” symptoms of Covid-19, such as a cough and a loss of sense of smell, are much rarer than they were.

A cough is the fifth most common symptom, but a loss of smell does not even make it into the top 10 anymore.

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He said that the change in the way Covid presents is “fuelling a lot of the problem” of rising infections because people might not realise they have it.

“People might think that they have just got some sort of seasonal cold and they still go out to parties and they might spread it around to six other people,” he explained.

“The message here is that, if you’re young and you’re going to get milder symptoms anyway, it might just feel like a bad cold or some funny 'off' feeling.

“But do stay at home and do get a test.”

He urged people to make use of the lateral flow tests which are readily available to anyone and can be used even if one does not have symptoms.

The Delta variant has caused a stir in the UK, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling it a cause for "serious, serious concern" and delaying the June 21 lockdown easing as a result.

The strain, which was first detected in India but is now dominant in the UK, makes up more than 90 per cent of new cases of the virus in Britain.

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However, data from Public Health England (PHE) found that two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine are "highly effective" against hospitalisation from the Delta variant.

The data is a promising sign that vaccines will still provide a route out of lockdown, and people are being encouraged to ensure they get both doses of the vaccine for maximum protection.

“These hugely important findings confirm that the vaccines offer significant protection against hospitalisation from the Delta variant,” Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE. said.

“It is absolutely vital to get both doses as soon as they are offered to you, to gain maximum protection against all existing and emerging variants.”