Covid: Three quarters of people with cold symptoms likely to have coronavirus

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Carl Bennett

By Carl Bennett

Published: 30/12/2021

- 16:19

The ZOE Covid Study reports a fall in the number of non-Covid 'colds' and a rise in symptomatic coronavirus infections.

Three quarters of people with new cold-like symptoms are likely to have Covid but exponential case growth seems to have stopped, scientists have said.

According to new analysis, the ZOE Covid Study estimates that 75% of people experiencing new cold-like symptoms are likely to have symptomatic Covid-19.

This is up from around 50% last week, with the study reporting that the data was showing a fall in the number of non-Covid “colds” and a rise in symptomatic coronavirus infections.

It also said that the incidence figures show there are currently 192,290 new daily symptomatic cases of Covid-19 in the UK on average, based on test data from up to three days ago.

This is up 33% from the 144,284 reported last week.

The study also found that while the rise in cases appeared to be slowing in the 0 to 55 age groups it was “rising sharply” in the 55 to 75-year-old groups.

It said that this was “worrying” because this older age group was more at risk of needing hospital treatment.

Dr Claire Steves, scientist on the ZOE Covid Study app, said that while the number of daily new symptomatic Covid cases was more than double what it was this time last year, exponential growth appeared to have stopped.

But the reader at King’s College London said that symptoms such as a sore throat, headache, and runny nose needed to be added to the Government list of Covid symptoms as soon as possible.

She added: “The number of daily new symptomatic Covid cases are more than double what they were this time last year and we are just a day or two away from hitting over 200,000.

“However, the exponential growth in cases appears to have stopped, and the rise is more steady.

“Hospitalisation rates are thankfully much lower than this time last year, but they are still high, especially in London.

“It’s good news to see that fewer people are newly sick than a few weeks ago.

“However, the fact that 75% of new cold-like symptoms are Covid, and the classic symptoms are much less common, means the Government advice needs to be urgently updated.

“We want to see symptoms like sore throat, headache and runny nose added to the list as soon as possible.”

The new figures, published on Thursday, come after a new record was set for the daily number of coronavirus cases on Wednesday, as all four UK nations reported their figures for the first time since Christmas Eve.

The UK Government said that a further 183,037 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases had been recorded in the UK as of 9am on Wednesday.

The total includes reported figures for Northern Ireland covering a five-day period.

But the 138,287 figure for England was also the highest recorded.

The ZOE Covid Study also found that there were 78,748 new daily symptomatic cases in the vaccinated population – those with at least two doses – across the UK, up 40% from 56,346 last week.

It estimates that on average one in 32 people in the UK currently have symptomatic Covid, rising to one in 30 in England.

In Wales it is one in 41, in Scotland it is one in 51, and in London one in 16 have symptomatic Covid, it added.

The ZOE study incidence figures are based on reports from around 840,000 weekly contributors.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Since the start of the pandemic we have acknowledged Covid-19 has a much longer list of symptoms than the ones used in the case definition and experts keep the list of symptoms under review.”

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