How do you know if you have the delta variant; what are the symptoms?

Researchers say that those infected with the more contagious version of the COVID-19 virus – the delta variant – are seeing symptoms that are different than those seen by people who contracted the original virus.

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According to Dr. Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and co-founder of the ZOE COVID Symptom Study, a common symptom of the original COVID-19 infection, the loss of the senses of smell and taste, is not being seen as much in those who have contracted the delta variant of the COVID-19 infection.

The ZOE COVID Symptom Study is a mobile app that lets users report infections and input symptoms to “study the symptoms of COVID-19 and track the spread of this virus.”

During a briefing in June, Spector said the top COVID-19 symptoms in the United Kingdom, where the delta variant is the predominant version of the infection, are:

  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Fever

“For the delta variant, we are studying the symptoms and getting more information,” Dr. Magna Dias, Yale Medicine physician and chair of pediatrics at Bridgeport Hospital, told the website Verywell.

“But the symptoms reported from countries like India and England overlap (and) do seem to show a shift in which ones are more common.”

The delta variant is more contagious than the original COVID infection, according to the CDC. Mutations in the virus’ spike protein allows the variant to more easily infect human cells. It is now the dominant strain in the U.S.

According to researchers, different variants of a virus are likely to produce different symptoms. With the delta variant, COVID-19 symptoms seem to present at first more like a cold with a runny nose, sore throat and other upper respiratory infection symptoms.

Many who contracted the original COVID-19 virus likened it to a bad case of influenza with fever, loss of smell, persistent cough and shortness of breath.

Not everyone has the same symptoms for variants of a virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge the public to be cautious if you have any COVID-19 symptoms.

The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are believed to provide good protection against the delta variant if a person is fully vaccinated – meaning it has been two weeks since he or she had the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

While there have been some reports of “breakthrough” cases, or cases of infection with the COVID-19 virus after a person has been fully vaccinated, the majority of the vaccinated people who get the virus avoid the hospital and do not die from the infection.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned Friday that as the delta variant has become the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S. “this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

“We also know that our authorized vaccines prevent severe disease, hospitalization and death from the delta variant,” Walensky added.

The CDC is monitoring four variants in the United States. In addition to the delta variant, or B.1.617.2, which was first detected in the United States in March 2021, the CDC is monitoring:

  • B.1.1.7 (Alpha): This variant was first detected in the United States in December 2020. It was initially detected in the United Kingdom.
  • B.1.351 (Beta): This variant was first detected in the United States at the end of January 2021. It was initially detected in South Africa in December 2020.
  • P.1 (Gamma): This variant was first detected in the United States in January 2021. P.1 was initially identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January.
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