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Delta Symptoms Usually Appear Like This

Knowing these signs can save your life.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

With a variant that's as contagious as chickenpox—and in fact twice as contagious as the variants before it—knowing if you caught COVID is essential. After all, you want to seek care ASAP—and don't want to pass it along to someone else. What's interesting is that the Delta variant may be presenting itself differently in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Read on to see what Delta symptoms usually appear like—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.


You May Have Symptoms Very Much Like a Common Cold

Blonde woman coughing.

If you are vaccinated, "the symptoms we are seeing now are much more commonly identified with the common cold," Dr. Andrew T. Chan, an epidemiologist and physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and one of the lead investigators of the Covid Symptom Study, 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." 


You May Have Headaches or a Sore Throat

Woman touches her throat.

If you are vaccinated: "Headaches and sore throat are other top complaints, he added," says the Times. These headaches can resemble a "jackhammer," in the words of one patient, and some last for many months, if you get Post-COVID Syndrome.

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You May Have a Fever or Lose Your Sense of Taste or Smell

woman trying to sense smell of half fresh orange, has symptoms of Covid-19

If you are vaccinated: "Fever and loss of taste and smell are being reported to a lesser degree," says the Times. "When a vaccinated person tests positive for COVID-19, most either have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms, and it rarely results in hospitalization or death," adds UC Davis Health. "No vaccine is 100% effective. With the COVID-19 vaccines averaging about 90% efficacy, health experts expect about 10% of those vaccinated could be infected."

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Here's What it Can Feel Like if You Are Unvaccinated

Doctor examining female patient in critical health conditions using a stethoscope in the intensive care unit of a modern hospital during covid-19 pandemic

"Early information about the severity of Delta included a study from Scotland that showed the Delta variant was about twice as likely as Alpha to result in hospitalization in unvaccinated individuals, but other data has shown no significant difference," reports Yale Medicine. Symptoms of COVID for unvaccinated people include the cold-like symptoms but also traditional COVID symptoms:

  • 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

Says UC Davis Health: Their "physicians have noted that a number of younger patients, when they come in with critical illness, say that they wish they would have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. Many patients have told their physicians, 'Why did I not get the vaccine?' or 'Why did I not listen?'"

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What to Do If You Feel You Have Delta

Healthcare worker with protective equipment performs coronavirus swab on a woman.

"Be cautious and err on the side of caution in terms of going ahead and getting a test," Dr. Mark Mulligan, the director of the N.Y.U. Langone Vaccine Center and the chief of infectious diseases at N.Y.U. Langone Health, told the Times. 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.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek