‘I’m a pharmacist — here are the symptoms of the new Covid strain we’re seeing’

Eris: New COVID-19 coronavirus variant detailed

Two new Covid variants are circulating in the UK, as cases have surged following bad weather and waning immunity this summer.

The estimated numbers have climbed by almost 200,000 last month, from 606,656 predicted cases on 4 July to 785,980 on 27 July, according to The Zoe Health Study, which estimates figures for UK Covid infections.

Experts are now warning that the emergence of new strains and autumnal weather could see the UK facing another wave, making symptom awareness front and centre.

Fortunately, Adeem Azhar, clinical pharmacist and co-founder of Core Prescribing Solutions, shared with Express.co.uk the key symptoms to spot.

“The most common symptoms of Covid, including the new variants like Eris and Pirola, seem to be similar to the original strain,” Azhar said.

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The pharmacist recommended looking out for the following tell-tale signs now:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Altered sense of smell. 

However, it is important to note that the symptoms can vary from person to person and some people may even experience an asymptomatic infection.

The expert added that it’s crucial to get tested if you think you might have Covid or you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive. 

“Testing helps in early detection, which can prevent the spread of the virus to others and also helps in starting the treatment early if needed,” Azhar said.

What do we know about the Eris Covid variant?

The descendant of Omicron, EG.5.1, is now the second most prevalent strain in the UK and the most common variant in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the Omicron spin-off is not thought to cause more severe symptoms than previous subvariants, it’s currently not clear whether it’s less severe or more infectious.

However, Eris may be able to more easily elude antibodies that people have developed from previous infection or vaccines.

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What do we know about Pirola?

The Covid variant BA.2.86 has been recorded in the UK on August 18 in a person with no recent travel history, suggesting a degree of transmission within the country, according to the UK Health Security Agency.

Scientists have established the Omicron subvariant carries 30 more mutations in the spike protein compared to the previous dominant variant. 

Dr Chris Papadopoulos, Principal Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Bedfordshire, previously told Express.co.uk that these mutations could mean Pirola is “potentially more transmissible and severe”.

However, nothing is certain as the variant continues to be monitored.

Azhar explained that the emergence of new variants is always a “concern” as they may be more transmissible, cause more severe disease, or escape previous immunity.

The pharmacist added: “It is important to continue monitoring the variants, follow public health guidelines, and get vaccinated to reduce the spread of the virus.

“It is important to note that the situation is evolving, and our understanding of the virus and its variants may change over time. 

“It is advisable to stay updated with information from reliable sources and consult with healthcare professionals for personalised advice.”

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