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The One Sure Sign You Have COVID Now

You may not associate it with the coronavirus at all.

The Delta variant of the coronavirus has mutated to become more contagious—as easy to catch as chickenpox, experts now say. At the same time, the most common symptoms of COVID seem to be changing, and a new symptom is most frequently reported. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.


How Symptoms Are Changing

Woman having throat ache

In the first waves of the pandemic, cough, shortness of breath, and the loss of taste or smell were the hallmark symptoms of COVID-19 infection. Things seem to be a bit different with the Delta variant. "It seems like cough and loss of smell are less common," Dr. Inci Yildirim, a Yale Medicine infectious diseases specialist, said last week. "And headache, sore throat, runny nose, and fever are present based on the most recent surveys in the UK."

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The UK Study

Woman with face protective mask looking at phone.

Those surveys are part of the COVID Symptom Study being conducted by Kings College London, where researchers have been tracking symptoms associated with new COVID cases via an app. They found that a new symptom is most common, and physical signs not previously associated with COVID are now frequently reported. 

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The Most Common Sign You Have COVID-19 Now

Pensioner reading message on mobile phone

The researchers are tracking COVID cases in people who are unvaccinated, fully vaccinated and partially vaccinated. "As we have found, even people who have had one or two doses of the vaccination can still be susceptible to contracting COVID, and the symptoms and severity differ depending on how many vaccinations you've had, if any," they wrote.

But not headache, which is now the #1 symptom reported among all three groups of new COVID infections.

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Other Common Symptoms of The Delta Variant

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Meanwhile, cold symptoms like a runny nose and sneezing—both of which were not considered indicators of COVID earlier in the pandemic—are increasingly reported. A runny nose was the #2 most reported symptom by fully vaccinated and partially vaccinated people in the study, and the #3 most common symptom in the unvaccinated.

Sneezing was the #3 most reported COVID symptom among the fully vaccinated and #4 in the partially vaccinated group. "If you've been vaccinated and start sneezing a lot without an explanation, you should get a COVID test, especially if you are living or working around people who are at greater risk from the disease," the researchers advise.

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The CDC Says Watch for These Symptoms

woman trying to sense smell of half fresh orange, has symptoms of Covid-19

The researchers say that an early telltale sign of COVID—loss of smell—seems to have become less common as the virus has evolved. It ranks #9 among the unvaccinated and #5 in people who were fully vaccinated.

But it still is a warning sign for COVID-19. It's important that if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

…that you get tested for COVID ASAP, even if you've been fully vaccinated.

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How to Stay Healthy

The female doctor syringe injection to the young patient put on a mask in the hospital

Follow public health guidelines and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live. Get vaccinated ASAP. If you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered. Don't travel. Practice social distancing, avoid large crowds, practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael