Revealed: The most common symptoms of the new UK variant of COVID

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·3 min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2021/01/10: A woman walks past the Government's 'Stay Home, Save Lives' Covid-19 publicity campaign poster in London, as the number of cases of the mutated variant of the SARS-Cov-2 virus continues to spread around the country. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A woman walks past a COVID-19 publicity campaign poster in London, as the number of cases of the COVID variant continues to spread around the country. (Getty)

As the new COVID variant continues to spread across the country, scientists have revealed what appear to be the most common symptoms.

Those coming down with the new variant can expect some similarities to the original symptoms but also some crucial differences.

According to a survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), people with the new variant are more likely to develop a persistent cough, tiredness, a sore throat and muscle pain.

A key difference is that sufferers are less likely to experience a loss of taste or smell – thought of as one of the tell-tale signs of coronavirus.

Symptoms of the new COVID variant compare to other variants. (ONS)
How symptoms of the new COVID variant compare with other variants. (ONS)

Read more: What you can and can't do under current lockdown rules

The ONS used self-reported symptoms – rather than those diagnosed by medics – between 15 November and 16 January for the survey.

The ONS said: "The largest differences in reported symptoms between the new variant compatible positives and those not compatible with the new UK variant were found in cough, sore throat, fatigue and myalgia [muscle pain].

"People testing positive compatible with the new UK variant were more likely to report any symptoms and the classic symptoms, but were less likely to report loss of taste and smell.

Watch: Scientists cast doubt over claim UK variant is more deadly

"There was no evidence of difference in the percentages reporting gastrointestinal symptoms."

The mutant coronavirus variant, which emerged in the south of England, may be more deadly than the original strain, scientists have warned.

The government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said last week that while there was still a “lot of uncertainty” around the data, it was a matter “of concern” that as well as spreading more quickly, the mutant strain could also lead to more deaths.

Evidence on what might make the new variant more deadly “is still emerging”, according to Susan Hopkins of Public Health England (PHE).

However, Peter Horby, a professor of emerging infectious diseases at Oxford University and chair of government advisory group Nervtag, said the variant is more able to bind stronger to human cells, provoking a stronger overreaction by the immune system, which “causes the worst disease”.

Sage and Nervtag member Professor John Edmunds described the evidence as “a really serious turn for the worse”.

He added: “This virus is very serious and needs to be taken very seriously.”

Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance speaks during a virtual press conference on the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, at 10 Downing Street in central London on January 22, 2021. - There is "some evidence" that the new strain of coronavirus identified in Britain is not only more transmissible but also more deadly, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday. "It also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant... may be associated with a higher degree of mortality," he said at a Downing Street press conference. (Photo by Leon Neal / POOL / AFP) (Photo by LEON NEAL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said there was 'uncertainty' over the mortality rate estimates of the new variant. (Getty)

However, PHE stressed in a statement that the risk of death from COVID across all age groups “remains low, for both the new variant and the older variant”.

Chief scientific adviser Vallance also said on Friday that there was some "uncertainty" about the mortality rate estimates because the data were from a series of different bits of information.

Sage adviser Dr Mike Tildesley added to the doubts about higher mortality, saying it was "possibly a little bit presumptuous" of Boris Johnson to present the findings "in the very early stages".

He said it is possible that the variant may ultimately prove to be less deadly than the original virus, telling Sky News: "It's somewhat unclear that this 30% is really reflective of what we are seeing.

"I would certainly approach this with an element of caution at the moment."

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown