What are the new Delta variant Covid symptoms?
The Covid symptoms to look out are changing, following the emergence of the new Delta variant in the UK.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been told to look out for three main symptoms that suggest Covid-19 infection: a high temperature, continuous cough and a loss of taste and/or smell. Even as other variants have emerged, experts have maintained their warnings about these three main symptoms.
However, following new data collection by the app-based Zoe symptom study, this has now changed. Experts are now warning people to look out for three totally different Covid symptoms, which all have proven links to the new Delta variant.
What are the new Delta variant Covid symptoms?
The three new Covid symptoms to look out for are:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
These are the most common symptoms of the Delta variant, researchers have said.
The data is part of the app-based Zoe Covid symptom study. It suggests that the Delta variant, first identified in India, feels like a “bad cold”.
Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London is leading the study. He said, “Covid is acting differently now, it’s more like a bad cold.
“People might think they’ve just got some sort of seasonal cold, and they still go out to parties…we think this is fuelling a lot of the problem. So, what’s really important to realise is that since the start of May, we’ve been looking at the top symptoms in all the app users, and they’re not the same as they were. So, the number one symptom is headache, followed by sore throat, runny nose and fever.”
Whereas previously a continuous cough was one of the most common symptoms, it’s now only the fifth most-common. A loss of smell is not in the top 10 list of common Covid symptoms associated with the Delta variant.
The warning about these new Covid symptoms comes as the Delta variant is now dominant in the UK. New data suggests that it’s responsible for at least 90% of all new cases of the virus, since it’s significantly more transmissible (by at least 40%) than other variants. It appears to double the risk of hospitalisation as well.
As Professor Spector said, “I think the message here is that if you’re young and getting milder symptoms any way, it might just feel like a bad cold or some funny feeling…do stay at home and do get a test.”
The recent spike in cases has, in turn, led the government to delay the end of lockdown until July 19. Previously, the lockdown roadmap gave an end date of June 21 for all lockdown restrictions. However, Boris Johnson announced that the “sensible” course of action would be to “wait just a little longer” to ease restrictions.
By delaying the end of lockdown for one month, the government hopes to significantly increase the number of people who have both Covid-19 jabs.
“Vaccination greatly reduces transmission and two doses provide a very high degree of protection against serious illness and death. But there are still millions of younger adults who have not been vaccinated and sadly a proportion of the elderly and vulnerable may still succumb even if they have had two jabs.
“And that is why we are so concerned by the Delta variant that is now spreading faster than the third wave predicted in the February roadmap,” he said.
“By Monday 19th July we will aim to have double jabbed around two thirds of the adult population including everyone over 50, all the vulnerable, all the frontline health and care workers and everyone over 40 who received their first dose by mid-May. And to do this we will now accelerate the 2nd jabs for those over 40 – just as we did for the vulnerable groups – so they get maximum protection as fast as possible.”
The PM also announced plans offer everyone their first dose before July 19. At the time of writing, those aged 23 to 24 have just become eligible to book their first vaccine.
Do lateral flow tests work on Delta variant?
Lateral flow tests do work to detect the Delta variant, experts have confirmed.
Professor Tim Spector has urged anyone feeling unwell to stay at home. And importantly, use a lateral flow test and follow up with a PCR test if they get a positive result.
“The number one symptom is headache, followed by runny nose, sore throat and fever. Not the old classic symptoms. We don’t see loss of smell in the top ten any more. This variant seems to be working slightly differently,” he said.
The government are also using expert-administered lateral flow tests in areas where the Delta variant is most prominent.
Lateral flow tests will work on the Delta variant, an article in the British Medical Journal explains, as the kits detect viral proteins (antigens) from the virus in respiratory samples. The antigens in the sample bind to specific antibodies attached to the paper strip on the test. This, in turn, creates the purple lines that indicate a positive result.
However, it’s important to note that lateral flow tests rely on the person having a high viral load. Those who have contracted Covid-19 but are asymptomatic with the virus tend to have a lower viral load than those with symptoms, meaning the test could be less effective. This is why self-isolating if you have come into contact with a Covid-positive person is important.
To take a lateral flow test, take a swab from the back of your throat and your nose. Drop the swab into the liquid provided. Then add the solution carefully to the test strip and wait for between 20 to 30 minutes for your result. If positive, you should follow up with a PCR test. These are more accurate than lateral flow tests at diagnosing infection.
Anyone can get two free lateral flow tests per week in England, without displaying any symptoms. People can order them online, call 119 or collect from local test centres and pharmacies.