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Delta Symptoms Usually Appear in This Order

Knowing means that doctors can identify sooner whether it's COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been unpredictable from the start: Few epidemiologists could have envisioned this is where we'd be, more than 18 months in. But almost two years of study has enabled scientists to learn about the virus's patterns, particularly when it comes to initial symptoms. This is the recent research about the order in which those first physical signs appear. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


The Most Common Early Symptoms

Woman being sick having flu sitting on bed alone at home, having high fever or temperature, touching forehead

Researchers at the COVID Symptom Study are tracking the initial signs of new COVID cases via an app. They say that these are the most commonly reported early symptoms, if you're vaccinated

  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Persistent cough

If you've not been vaccinated, the scientists say, symptoms are similar to the more well-known ones associated with earlier strains of COVID-19.

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Common Cold-Like Symptoms Are Common

Sick woman with tissue and running nose

"The symptoms we are seeing now are much more commonly identified with the common cold," Dr. Andrew T. Chan, an epidemiologist and one of the COVID Symptom Study's lead investigators, told the New York Times. "We are still seeing people presenting with a cough, but we are also seeing a higher prevalence of things like runny nose and sneezing." 

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Other Common COVID Symptoms

According to the CDC, the common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you experience any of the symptoms, get tested for COVID-19 ASAP, even if you've been fully vaccinated.

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The Dangers of Delta—And a Solution

Female doctor or nurse giving shot or vaccine to a patient's shoulder. Vaccination and prevention against flu or virus pandemic.

Experts say Delta is much more transmissible than previous strains of the virus and that it causes more severe disease, is twice as likely to cause hospitalization and tends to make people sicker, quicker.

The good news: Research shows that vaccination slashes the chance of being hospitalized, developing severe disease, or dying of COVID-19. Breakthrough infections are possible, but they generally cause only mild disease. And the latest research has found that they are rare. The risk is about 1 in 5,000 per day, and maybe even lower if you take additional precautions or live in a highly vaccinated area, the New York Times reported on Tuesday: "The risks of getting any version of the virus remain small for the vaccinated, and the risks of getting badly sick remain minuscule." 

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How to Stay Safe Out There


Follow public health guidelines and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael