Research carried out by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) looked closely at the symptoms which were most commonly reported by people who had contracted the new 'Kent' variant (B.1.1.7, formerly VUI-202012/01) of the Covid-19 virus in comparison with those of the old variant and found significant differences in its affects.
The variant, which is a version of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes Covid-19, has a series of mutations that change the shape of the spike protein on its outside. The main one is known as N501Y. This appears to make it better able to stick to the cells inside the body and makes it much more likely to cause infection and gives it the ability to spread much faster within the population.
A new analysis of the data between November and December has highlighted significant changes in symptoms reported.
For instance, the loss of taste and smell which has been widely associated with the infection, may be seen slightly less in those affected with the new strain. Sixteen percent of those affected with the new variant reported a loss of the sense of taste with Fifteen percent reporting a loss of the sense of smell, compared with Eighteen percent of both for those with the old variant.
The ONS reported that the symptom of loss of taste and smell was significantly less common in those positive for the new strain.
However there was no evidence shown of any differences reported in gastrointestinal symptoms, nor those involving shortness of breath or headaches.
A group of around 3,500 people with the new variant were asked to participate in the study, in which 35 percent reported they had a cough, 32 percent had suffered with fatigue and 25 per cent had experienced associated muscle aches and pains. 21.8 percent reported having had suffered from a sore throat.
This data was compared with that of a group of 2,500 people suffering from the older variant which saw 28 percent reporting symptoms of a cough and 29 percent which had fatigue.
21 percent of participant reported muscles aches and pains and 19 percent experienced a sore throat.
These changes to symptoms are worth being aware of as many who suffer from Covid-19 will have milder symptoms which could be dismissed as colds and milder flu. Those people have the potential to then go on to infect others who will suffer far worse from the effects of the virus.
If you are suffering from any of the symptoms then please contact the NHS and arrange a test to be sure.