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UK Covid variant sufferers cough more, but sense of smell less affected – survey

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  • The variant, identified in southeast England in December, is thought to be more transmissible, and could also be associated with higher mortality, though data suggesting increased death rates are uncertain and not yet strong.

Reuters, London

UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 05:38 PM IST

People testing positive for the new British variant of the coronavirus are more likely to report coughing, sore throat or fatigue as symptoms of Covid-19, but are less likely to lose their sense of taste or smell, a British survey has found.

The variant, identified in southeast England in December, is thought to be more transmissible, and could also be associated with higher mortality, though data suggesting increased death rates are uncertain and not yet strong.

Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that other differences had been observed between those with the variant from the United Kingdom and others with Covid-19.

“Loss of taste and loss of smell were significantly less common in new variant compatible positives than triple positives,” the ONS said in an analysis of the characteristics of people in England with Covid-19, covering the period between Nov. 15, 2020 to Jan. 16, 2021.

A “triple positive” PCR test result indicates that someone has Covid-19 but not the British variant.

“Other symptoms were more common in new variant compatible positives, with the largest differences for cough, sore throat, fatigue, myalgia (muscle pain) and fever,” the ONS said.

“There is no evidence of difference in the gastrointestinal symptoms, shortness of breath or headaches.”

The ONS Infection Survey is one of the most closely watched measures of prevalence of Covid-19, and is used to estimate coronavirus infections in the community.

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