The COVID-19 virus has evolved since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. There are several strains of this virus, of which Delta and Omicron are the most prevalent and transmissible ones.
COVID is still evolving to this day. Therefore, many are wondering: Have COVID symptoms changed since 2020? What new COVID-19 symptoms should you be aware of in 2022?
The short answer is yes, COVID symptoms have changed. In fact, a recent study conducted in the UK shed some light on this issue.
In today’s post, we’ll share everything you need to know, including:
- What the new COVID-19 symptoms are
- Why COVID symptoms have changed
- How to prevent the spread of the new variants of COVID-19
Without further ado, let’s begin
What Are the New COVID-19 Symptoms in 2022?
At the beginning of the pandemic, the most common COVID symptoms were:
- Continuous cough
- Loss of smell or taste
These symptoms were just the tip of the iceberg, there were many more on the list. However, these three were present in most COVID cases or were exclusively caused by the virus.
A recent UK study, conducted with data provided by an app called Zoe Covid-19, found an interesting change in how COVID-19 infections manifest.
On the Zoe Covid-19 app, 17,500 individuals with confirmed COVID cases reported their symptoms. King’s College London analyzed these data with the support of the NHS and discovered that the loss of smell or taste is no longer as frequent in COVID cases anymore.
However, other symptoms, less common at first, became more frequent as the virus mutated. For instance:
- Vocal hoarseness
- Feeling tired or exhausted
- Muscle ache
In fact, according to the Zoe Health Study, the 20 most common COVID symptoms today are:
- Throat soreness – 58% of participants said they experienced it
- Headaches – present in 49% of participants
- Nose blockage – present in 40% of participants
- Dry cough – 40% of participants
- Coryza – 40% of participants
- Coughing with phlegm – 37% of participants
- Hoarse voice – 35% of participants
- Sneezing – 32% of participants
- Fatigue – 27% of participants
- Muscle ache – 25% of participants
- Nausea – 18% of participants
- Neck swelling – 15% of participants
- Eye pain – 14% of participants
- Changes in smell – 13% of participants
- Chest pain or tightness – 13% of participants
- Fever – 13% of participants
- Chills – 12% of participants
- Shortness of breath – 11% of participants
- Earache – 11% of participants
- Loss of smell – 10% of participants
Moreover, these findings are also consistent with other recent studies, such as React-1.
Why Have COVID-19 Symptoms Changed?
There are many differences between today’s COVID and the one that emerged almost three years ago in Wuhan. A clear example is Omicron, a COVID strain that has increased infections exponentially throughout the world. Aside from that, new subvariants of Omicron developed over time as well. The most relevant ones were BA.2, BA.4, BA.5, which became dominant in 2022.
The main reason for this is that viruses mutate continuously. Nonetheless, SARS-Covid-2 mutates at a “slow pace” compared to other viruses like Influenza – which mutates four times faster. As a result, COVID-19 mutations also altered symptoms, according to experts.
Today’s symptoms differ from those seen in 2020, when loss of smell or fever was prevalent. These days, people infected with the virus experience symptoms similar to those of a cold or the flu.
According to experts, Omicron symptoms are so similar to having a cold because, while previous variants infected lung cells, Omicron primarily affects the cells in the upper respiratory tract.
Should You Worry?
COVID’s new symptoms make it difficult to differentiate it from other respiratory viral illnesses. Despite this, you should continue to take precautions. Identifying the new symptoms is key to keeping yourself and everyone around you safe. And you can only find out if you are infected by getting tested.
Plus, the experts are still unsure about the long-term effects of COVID. For instance, a recent study showed that even after a light COVID infection can have neurological effects. Still, it’s important not to panic. Stay informed and take action instead.
Today we took a look at the new COVID-19 symptoms. Some things have changed. However, taking care of yourself remains the same as in 2020. Remember to:
- Wear a face mask in crowded places
- Wash your hands regularly
- If you start experiencing symptoms, isolate yourself and get tested
The pandemic is almost over. But taking care of each other is the only way to prevent new dangerous COVID strains from emerging.
Want to get tested before your next trip? No matter where you are, or what type of test you need, find testing locations near you with our global directory.