Delta variant may have different symptoms, early data suggests

The delta coronavirus variant appears more commonly linked to a different range of symptoms than other variants, according to a large U.K. study cited by CNBC.

Throughout the pandemic, officials have observed the main symptoms of COVID-19 to be fever, persistent cough and loss of taste or smell, with some variations. The CDC's list of symptoms, updated Feb. 22, includes fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. Asymptomatic infections are also common. 

However, the delta variant, first identified in India, may be producing a different set of symptoms. 

Three things to know: 

1. Researchers with the Zoe COVID Symptom Study, an ongoing study in the U.K., are examining self-reported COVID-19 symptom data from the public. "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," Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London and researcher with the Zoe COVID Symptom project, said in a June 9 YouTube briefing. "The number one symptom is headache, then followed by sore throat, runny nose and fever."

2. More "traditional" COVID-19 symptoms, such as a cough and loss of smell, are less common now, with younger people experiencing more of a bad cold or "funny off feeling," Mr. Spector said.

3. Other symptoms not typically seen in COVID-19 patients have also been reported, such as hearing loss and gangrene, according to Bloomberg. Dr. Abdul Ghafur, an infectious disease physician in Chennai, India, said he's seeing more COVID-19 patients with diarrhea than during the pandemic's first wave. Dr. Ghafur noted that more research must be done to analyze if the newer clinical presentations are linked to the delta variant. 

On June 14, the CDC classified the delta variant as a "variant of concern." The strain now accounts for nearly 10 percent of U.S. cases and is doubling every two weeks, Scott Gottlieb, MD, former FDA commissioner, said June 13.


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