A different story: Professor criticises order of the nine new official Covid symptoms

Dr Hilary Jones explains nine new symptoms of Covid

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Coronavirus cases are skyrocketing across the UK, driven by two variants of Omicron – BA.1 and BA.2. According to the latest data from the Zoe Covid Study app, which monitors the movement of the pandemic via millions of user submissions, the UK is currently seeing 322,000 cases a day. Meanwhile, the NHS has added nine new official Covid symptoms to its list.

For Professor Tim Spector, co-founder of the Zoe Covid Study app and Professor of Epidemiology at King’s College London, the decision to update the official list is a vindication of a two-year-long effort.

“I have been pushing the Government for almost two years now to finally include cold-like symptoms and hopefully it leads to reduction in infections,” the professor said in his latest YouTube video.

While Prof Spector welcomes the long overdue update, his endorsement was not full-hearted. 

As he explained, the Government has chosen to simply add on the symptoms to its existing list.

This belies the importance of ranking them in terms of prevalence.

“The list we [Zoe] have shows a different story,” he said.

According to the Zoe list, a runny nose comes out on top, accounting for over 82 percent of all positive cases, followed by fatigue, sore throat and headache.

However, the NHS list puts a high temperature or shivering (chills) as the top symptom.

Fever, which the NHS dubs the “gold-standard” symptom, is only seen in 32 percent of positive cases, Prof Spector said.

Likewise, altered smell, which comes in at number three on the NHS list, has dropped down to number 15 in the Zoe list, Prof Spector said.

Furthermore, the Government puts continuous cough as a top symptom but it now ranks at number six in the Zoe list, seen in only half of all positive cases (54 percent), Prof Spector said.

“We do not seem to completely agree diarrhoea would make the list,” the professor added.

Prof Spector points out that diarrhoea does not even rank in the Zoe list’s top 20.

“It’s rarer than that yet the Government has chosen to focus on that one.”

The Zoe list ranks the current Covid symptoms in the following order:

  • Sneezing
  • Persistent cough
  • Hoarse voice
  • Other
  • Chills or shivers
  • Unusual joint pains
  • Fever
  • Dizzy
  • Brain fog
  • Eye soreness
  • Altered smell
  • Unusual muscle pains
  • Lower back pain
  • Swollen glands
  • Skipped meals
  • Chest pain.

How to reduce transmission

The NHS says you should try and self-isolate if you’re displaying symptoms of Covid.

The other crucial weapon in the armoury is getting vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine.

Extensive evidence shows the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines are safe and effective. They give you the best protection against COVID-19.

Everyone aged 12 and over, and some children aged 5 to 11, can get a first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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