A sore throat is now the main indicator of COVID-19 as we see the virus continue to evolve and mutate

Previously, symptoms such as a fever or loss of smell were considered among the most characteristic signs of the virus. This has all changed, as these symptoms are among the least reported now.

According to the latest data, a sore throat might be the main symptom indicating that a person has developed COVID-19.

The Zoe COVID study reports that the next most prevalent symptoms are headache and a blocked nose.

Other common symptoms include a cough, hoarse voice, sneezing, fatigue and muscle aches.

COVID is “still rampant” and 200,000 have died

Professor Tim Spector, Zoe Scientific Co-Founder and Lead Scientist on the Zoe Health Study, describes the virus as “still rampant” in the population.

If you have any cold-like symptoms at the moment it’s nearly twice as likely to be COVID as a cold

He comments: “So much so that if you have any cold-like symptoms at the moment it’s nearly twice as likely to be COVID as a cold.”

There are now various COVID variants co-existing, such as Omicron variants BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5 which means even fully vaccinated individuals and those with past infections can still catch it, Prof Spector says.

However, he adds, “We’re already seeing a slight drop in numbers day to day” which is welcome news for all.

The virus is becoming ‘too clever’

In the UK, COVID-related deaths have exceeded 200,000. The UK has a death rate of 2,689 per million people, making it one of the worst affected countries in Europe. It has a higher mortality rate than Spain, France and Germany.

WHO’s special envoy on the virus, Dr David Nabarro, discusses the mutation potential of the virus, and explains that it is becoming “too clever”.

“This virus is capable of constantly evolving and changing” he adds, “The reason why we’ve got an increase is it’s changed yet again and it’s become too clever for us.

“It can break past our immune defences, and that’s why the numbers are going up.”

What were the 20 most common COVID symptoms reported last week?

• Sore throat – 58%
• Headache – 49%
• Blocked nose – 40%
• Cough no phlegm – 40%
• Runny nose – 40%
• Cough with phlegm – 37%
• Hoarse voice – 35%
• Sneezing – 32%
• Fatigue – 27%
• Muscle pains/aches – 25%
• Dizzy light-headed – 18%
• Swollen neck glands – 15%
• Eye soreness – 14%
• Altered smell – 13%
• Chest pain tightness – 13%
• Fever – 13%
• Chills or shivers – 12%
• Shortness of breath – 11%
• Earache – 11%
• Loss of smell – 10%

These figures are based on the 17,500 people who tested positive since Monday 11th July 2022.


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