Delta variant symptoms: How to tell the difference between COVID-19 and hay fever

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In the UK, the Delta variant now accounts for 95 percent of all infections. While the usual symptoms are present in many of those who test positive, there is some anecdotal evidence that the more recent strain, originally found in India earlier this year, has some symptom variations that are similar to hay fever.

As always, the main coronavirus symptoms the NHS recommends looking out for are:

  • a new, continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

But Professor Tim Spector, who runs the Zoe Covid Symptom study, says that Delta can feel “more like a bad cold” for younger people, and that the three classic main symptoms may be less common now, according to the data his team have been analysing

He said: “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.

“This variant seems to be working slightly differently.”

The top three symptoms reported to the ZOE study are now remarkably similar to some symptoms of hay fever.

Hay fever can cause a sore, itchy throat, a running nose, itchy eyes and skin, as well as headaches.

These symptoms have also been commonly reported in the ZOE study, more so now with the new variant sweeping across the UK.

ZOE research now suggests that a headache and runny nose – also common symptoms of a cold – are now two leading indicators of being infected with COVID-19.

According to ZOE’s latest data, the COVID-19 case rate in the UK is now highest in the 20 to 29 age group.

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Professor Spector also emphasized that the vaccine will help protect you from severe illness.

He said: “If you are double-vaccinated, there is some reduction in protection, but it’s only very minor.

“So your risk is still at least five- to ten-fold less if you’ve been double-vaccinated.

“We know from our data from the Zoe app that if you get it, you’re going to get a much milder, shorter-duration version, making it highly unlikely you’ll go to hospital.”

How do I tell the difference between hay fever and Covid?

Hay fever symptoms tend to come and go, and are usually able to get better with antihistamine medication.

COVID-19 symptoms are likely to be persistent, and also likely to get worse before they get better after a number of days.

If you think you may have COVID-19, you should book a test and self isolate until the results of your test.

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