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WHO tagged B.1.617.2 strain as the ‘Delta’ variant of SARS-CoV-2. The variant was recognized as one of the drivers of the second wave of coronavirus infections that confounded parts of the country earlier this year.

The ‘Delta’ variant has further altered to form the ‘Delta plus’ or ‘AY.1’ variant. However, there is no instant cause for concern in India as its incidence in the country is still low, scientists said.

Using a self-reporting system through a mobile app, data from the United Kingdom suggest the most common COVID symptoms may have changed from those we traditionally associated with the virus. The reports don’t take into account which COVID variant participants are infected with. But given Delta is predominating in the UK at present, it’s a safe bet the symptoms we see here reflect the Delta variant.

While fever and cough have always been common COVID symptoms, and headache and sore throat have conventionally presented for some people, a runny nose was rarely reported in earlier data. Meanwhile, loss of smell, which was originally quite common, now ranks ninth.

There are a few reasons we could be seeing the symptoms evolving in this way. It could also be because of the evolution of the virus, and the different characteristics (viral factors) of the Delta variant. But why exactly symptoms could be changing remains uncertain. While we still have more to learn about the Delta variant, this emerging data is important because it shows us that what we might think of as just a mild winter cold — a runny nose and a sore throat — could be a case of COVID-19.


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Joydev Mishra

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