The delta coronavirus variant continues to surge in the United States, now accounting for 83% of COVID-19 cases in the United States.
That represents a stark difference from earlier this month, with cases on the rise in all 50 states in July.
Those who get the delta variant may see symptoms that differ slightly from the original strain. Here’s a look at how the symptoms compare.
A common sign you may have COVID-19 is a loss of smell and taste, but you may not have that with the highly contagious delta variant.
“It seems like cough and loss of smell are less common,” said Dr. Inci Yildirim, a Yale Medicine pediatric infectious diseases specialist. “And headache, sore throat, runny nose, and fever are present based on the most recent surveys in the U.K.”
Other symptoms prevalent in the original coronavirus, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, also aren’t as prevalent with delta.
The symptoms for delta are most similar to that of a bad cold, said Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London
“COVID is also acting differently now,” Spector said in a briefing last week, CNBC reported. “It’s more like a bad cold in this younger population and people don’t realize that and that hasn’t come across in any of the government information.”
Helen Chu, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington, said it’s unclear why delta has different symptoms because the variant is largely affecting younger individuals, NPR reported.
It may have symptoms that resemble a bad cold, but experts have warned of its severity.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has referred to delta as a variant of concern due to it being more severe and easier to spread.
“In a completely unmitigated environment, where no one is vaccinated or wearing masks, it’s estimated that the average person infected with the original coronavirus strain will infect 2.5 other people,” said Perry Wilson, a Yale Medicine epidemiologist. “In the same environment, delta would spread from one person to maybe 3.5 or 4 other people.”
The greatest defense against the delta variant are the vaccines, experts say. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 88% effective against delta after two doses, McClatchy News reported. Studies of the Moderna vaccine show it has just a “modest reduction” in antibody levels compared to the original strain.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 85% effective against severe/critical disease and protected against hospitalization and death.
“So far, vaccine coverage is not high enough in most parts of the world to be impacting the spread of the delta variant,” Dr. Chris Beyrer, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Verywell Health. “This is why it is spreading so quickly.”