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Covid: The peculiar symptom that may be making a comeback – doctors reporting ‘uptick’

Omicron sub-variant discussed by infectious disease expert

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Covid is once again spreading unchecked in the UK, with the latest data putting the daily caseload at 350,000 this week. As the virus makes its way through the population, a picture of the symptomatic profile is once again emerging. The general consensus is that the “classic three” symptoms seen in the first wave – high temperature, new, continuous cough and loss of smell – have become less prevalent.

However, anecdotal reports coming out of the US tell a slightly different story.

While far fewer patients reported loss of the sense of smell during the first Omicron wave compared to earlier waves, the peculiar Covid symptom seems to be making a comeback.

Although doctors stress that their hunch is only based on anecdotal evidence, the number of patients reporting loss of smell is growing.

Valentina Parma, a psychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, who works with Covid patients, is noticing more patients reporting loss of smell.

“What I am seeing in my corner of the world is a spike,” she said to NBC News.

“There seems to be more requests than earlier this year but still significantly less than with delta.”

This flies in the face of current evidence.

A US-based study published in May found that the Alpha variant — the first variant of concern — was half as likely to impair smell than the original version of the coronavirus.

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During the delta wave, the odds people would experience an impaired sense of smell fell to 44 percent.

During the winter Omicron wave, it fell further, to 17 percent.

However, Doctor Lora Bankova, an allergist and immunologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, has also noticed more patients are reporting loss of smell.

“I have talked to people overall about losing their taste and smell lately and it seems that there is an uptick, but the data isn’t there yet,” she said to NBC News.

It’s worth noting these reports are so far confined to the US.

A recent analysis of data from the Covid ZOE app – which logs symptoms from thousands of users across the UK – shows a headache is now the most reported symptom.

The team behind the ZOE Covid study said: “The previous ‘traditional’ symptoms as still outlined on the Government website, such as anosmia (loss of smell), shortness of breath and fever rank way down the list, at six, 29 and eight respectively.”

Although, “if you’ve not yet been vaccinated, then the symptoms are more recognisable to the traditional original ranking”, they noted.

See the latest Covid vaccine stats below and visit InYourArea for all the Covid vaccine latest

The ZOE team added: “However, we can still observe some changes from when COVID-19 first appeared over a year ago.”

The top symptoms of Covid currently reported are:

  • Headache
  • Sore Throat
  • Runny Nose
  • Fever
  • Persistent cough.

UK latest

Covid infections in the UK are up 32 percent on the previous week with an estimated 2.3 million people infected, latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

Infections in all four nations of the UK are rising, with levels in England back to where they were in late April.

The latest wave is being driven by the newer variants Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, which are more transmissible than other strains and are able to breach the immune defences built up by vaccines or previous infections.

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