Variant-specific symptoms of COVID-19 in a study of 1,542,510 adults in England


HPRU-EZI Author: Christl Donnelly


Infection with SARS-CoV-2 virus is associated with a wide range of symptoms. The REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission -1 (REACT-1) study monitored the spread and clinical manifestation of SARS-CoV-2 among random samples of the population in England from 1 May 2020 to 31 March 2022. We show changing symptom profiles associated with the different variants over that period, with lower reporting of loss of sense of smell or taste for Omicron compared to previous variants, and higher reporting of cold-like and influenza-like symptoms, controlling for vaccination status. Contrary to the perception that recent variants have become successively milder, Omicron BA.2 was associated with reporting more symptoms, with greater disruption to daily activities, than BA.1. With restrictions lifted and routine testing limited in many countries, monitoring the changing symptom profiles associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection and effects on daily activities will become increasingly important.


Nature Communications