New research has shown that the fast-spreading United Kingdom coronavirus variant has more symptoms than those infected with the original strain of the virus. According to experts, people who test positive for the variant are more likely to report a persistent cough, tiredness, muscle aches, sore throat and fever compared to those who have the original strain.
Patients infected with the U.K. variant were significantly less likely to report a loss of the sense of taste or smell, which are symptoms that we have been reading and hearing about in the news.
The U.K. variant, known as B.1.1.7, was first detected in September and has since spread rapidly around the world. It is circulating in at least 28 U.S. states and growing as of press time.
It has been reported that the new variant is 40 percent-70 percent more transmissible than the original coronavirus strain. It could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preliminary studies suggest the current Covid-19 vaccines will be effective against the B.1.1.7 strain.
U.K. Variant Symptoms
Cough was the most common symptom in those infected with the new variant, reported by 35 percent. The other common symptoms were fatigue/weakness (32 percent), headache (32 percent), muscle aches (25 percent), sore throat (22 percent) and fever (22 percent). Only about 15 percent with the new variant reported a loss of taste or smell, compared to 19 percent of those infected with the original coronavirus.
Top symptoms reported by patients in the United Kingdom:
The CDC is also tracking new coronavirus strains discovered in South Africa and Brazil. These variants are being tracked by scientists, since they seem to spread quickly and have the potential to become much more dominant.
In addition to getting the vaccine, the best way to protect yourself against the new variants is to continue to follow the same precautions that protect against the original coronavirus strain: Wear two masks, wash your hands, practice social distancing, avoid crowds and stay home if at all possible.
For the latest coronavirus news and advice, visit aarp.org/coronavirus.
Ron Mori is a member of the Washington, D.C., JACL chapter and manager of community, states and national affairs — multicultural leadership for AARP.