Several places around the world are in the midst of a COVID wave, partly fueled by the BA.5 Omicron subvariant, which makes up around 78 percent of cases in the US according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As we've learned over the last few years, symptoms can vary with different waves as the virus mutates. It can be particularly difficult at the moment to distinguish it from colds and other respiratory illnesses without getting a test. However, according to the head of the ZOE health study, there are several symptoms that – if you have them – you can pretty much assume that you have COVID while you await your test.
"Now something else interesting we've forgotten about is people saying they've got summer colds. 'Oh, I've got a summer cold, it doesn't feel like COVID, I'm fine'," ZOE head Tim Spector said in a YouTube update.
"You are twice as likely – if you have any cold-like symptoms – to have COVID rather than any other type of virus, and we haven't really seen this ever before. It's important to realize that and assume you've probably got COVID."
"Try and get a test if you can. If you can't, or – as we've been hearing anecdotes – if your tests have been negative in the first few days, it's probably best to assume you've got it and stay away from other people."
On Twitter, he explained that COVID symptoms reported to the ZOE App are similar to those of colds, but that fatigue and sore throats are more common so it's best to assume that these could indicate COVID, adding "hopefully this wave will be over soon."
These symptoms are broadly similar to the last major update from the study on the Omicron variant, back in December.
"Data released on 16 December by the COVID Symptoms Study 1, run by the health science company ZOE and King’s College London, show that the top five symptoms reported in the app for Omicron infection were runny nose, headache, fatigue (either mild or severe), sneezing, and sore throat," a paper on the study published in the BMJ read.
"This initial analysis was based on positive cases in London, which was selected because of its higher prevalence of omicron than in other parts of the UK."