COVID Symptoms Changing With Latest Omicron Subvariant, British Study Finds
UKRAINE - 2021/12/05: In this photo illustration, a hand extracting a dose of vaccine from a vial is seen in front of the words Omicron covid-19 with a logo of CDC in the background.
Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As the SARS-CoV-2 continues to morph into new variants of COVID, so too are the symptoms changing.

A British study has found that the most common symptoms of the Omicron variant differ from other variants that emerged throughout the pandemic.

A sore throat and a hoarse voice, which were not as prevalent in Delta cases, are the most reported symptoms of the newer variant, a Zoe Health Study found. Both vaccinated, and unvaccinated people have experienced these symptoms.

The study also concurred with other researchers that found the Omicron variant leads to fewer hospitalizations than the Delta variant.

“The findings show that the duration of COVID-19 symptoms was significantly shorter (6.87 days versus 8.89 days), and participants were less likely to be hospitalized with the Omicron variant compared with the Delta variant,” Zoe Health said in a press release about the study.

“The most striking difference between variants was the difference in loss of sense of smell — a common symptom of earlier variants — which is now only appearing in under 20% of cases and often days after the first appearance of symptoms,” the release said. “Many other more serious symptoms — like brain fog, eye soreness, fever, and headaches — were all significantly less prevalent in Omicron cases, though they can still occur.”

The study also found that Omicron “appears to be much more transmissible than previous variants,” but it “causes fewer severe symptoms in multiple organs that are more affected by Delta.”

“We observe a different clinical presentation of symptoms in those infected with Omicron compared to Delta. As we are moving even further away from the average patient having U.K. government ‘approved symptoms,’ i.e. fever, persistent cough, loss of smell, our results point to a different selection of symptoms that may indicate infection. To protect others, it is still important to self-isolate for 5 days as soon as you see any symptoms,” Dr. Cristina Menni, from King’s College London, said, according to the release.

On Sunday, White House COVID Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha declared the new BA.5 subvariant of Omicron to be “the most immune evasive” and urged older Americans and those with compromised immune systems to take a booster shot.

The vaccines and boosters that Americans took were targeted at the original strain, and while it offers protection from severe illness with other variants, Jha said that is increasingly limited.

“We’re still seeing some protection against infection but not as much,” Jha told ABC “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz. “This is that immune-evasive nature of this virus. So if you got your booster let’s say last November or December, you don’t have as much protection against this virus as you’d like.”

Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.

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