With cases of COVID reaching relatively high levels once again, here are the symptoms to keep an eye out for.
The JN.1 COVID variant had a rapid spread throughout December 2023 and has now become the most common strain of the virus spreading across the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cases of JN.1 are also creeping up in the UK, as well as China and India.
Health authorities currently aren’t sure whether JN.1 infections produce different symptoms from other variants, with the CDC noting that “the types of symptoms and how severe they are usually depend more on a person’s immunity and overall health rather than which variant causes the infection.”
That said, there is some decent evidence that people are reporting slightly different COVID symptoms this season.
The latest data from December 2023 by the UK’s Office for National Statistics suggests the most commonly reported symptoms among surveyed respondents with COVID-19 include:
- Runny nose (31.1 percent)
- Cough (22.9 percent)
- Headache (20.1 percent)
- Weakness or tiredness (19.6 percent)
- Muscle ache (15.8 percent)
- Sore throat (13.2 percent)
- Trouble sleeping (10.8 percent)
- Worry or anxiety (10.5 percent).
Many of the top symptoms, including a runny nose and a cough, have been reported among people with COVID since 2020, although the list does include some new additions, such as trouble sleeping and anxiety.
It’s also noteworthy that loss of taste and smell – once considered a tell-tale sign of COVID – is now only reported by 2 to 3 percent of infected people in the UK.
The sudden rise of JN.1 suggests that it is either more transmissible or better at evading our immune systems. However, the good news is that there’s currently nothing to suggest that it is any more aggressive than other variants in circulation.
“At this time, there is no evidence that JN.1 presents an increased risk to public health relative to other currently circulating variants,” the CDC said on its website.
The broader guidance for COVID-19 remains pretty much the same as ever: stay cautious out there and if you test positive then it’s best to stay home, isolating from others for at least five days. The CDC notes: “It’s important to know that existing vaccines, tests, and treatments still work well against JN.1, so this variant does not affect CDC’s recommendations.”
All “explainer” articles are confirmed by fact checkers to be correct at time of publishing. Text, images, and links may be edited, removed, or added to at a later date to keep information current.
The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.