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COVID-19 has evolved. What are the symptoms to look out for now?

Loss of smell was a common symptom of the delta variant, but now appears in only 20% of cases

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An illustration of COVID-19.

Illustration by Michelle Budge, Deseret News

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are surging again as the new omicron subvariant BA.5 accounts for close to 80% of all reported cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker.

Reinfections have become common because BA.5 has the ability to evade antibodies acquired through previous infection, vaccines or both.

Here’s what you need to know about omicron symptoms.

How different are omicron symptoms compared to other COVID-19 strains?

A recent study published in The Lancet looked at symptoms of more than 62,000 vaccinated participants in the U.K. The participants tested positive for COVID-19 when the delta variant was dominant between June and November 2021, as well as when the omicron variant was dominant during last December and January.

Researchers from ZOE Heath Study and King’s College, London, found that the omicron variant fuels fewer hospitalizations. Unlike delta, omicron does not frequently attack the lower respiratory tract, which can make an infection more severe, they noted.

Additionally, omicron doesn’t last as long in vaccinated people. Instead of loss of smell — a common symptom with delta which now appears in only 20% of cases — the common symptom now is a sore throat.

Other delta symptoms, like brain fog, eye soreness, fever and headaches, are also less common in omicron cases.

What are the top omicron symptoms to look out for?

As I previously reported, omicron subvariants have a shorter incubation period, which is why the symptoms may appear earlier.

The most common omicron-related symptoms are:

  • Cough.
  • Fatigue.
  • Congestion.
  • Runny nose.