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People With COVID Usually Feel This First

These are most commonly reported initial symptoms of COVID.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

There's a new COVID variant—called Omicron—that is cause for concern, as it seems to spread rapidly and scientists don't know yet how dangerous it may be. Its discovery has resulted in travel restrictions from South Africa, the country that alerted the world to the variant first. Although scientists are still studying this new variant, it's important to remain vigilant about the symptoms of the virus that is currently circulating most. Nearly all recent COVID cases are now caused by the highly infectious Delta variant, and research and doctors' anecdotal reports indicate that the symptoms are slightly different. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.

1

Delta Symptoms Affect These People Differently

Young woman sitting on a couch, holding her head, having a strong headache. Close up Portrait of young woman with headache.
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Experts say Delta COVID symptoms seem to be different, depending on your vaccination status.

These are most commonly reported initial symptoms of COVID, if you've been vaccinated: 

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

They've been likened to common cold symptoms and are usually mild.

If you haven't been vaccinated, symptoms tend to be like those of earlier strains of COVID-19, including fever, a cough that can be severe, loss of taste or smell, in addition to headache, sore throat, and runny nose.

RELATED: President Biden Has These Three Messages for All Americans About New Variant

2

Other Common COVID Symptoms

young woman sitting on a couch having a strong headache
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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

That's a long list. Getting a headache or feeling queasy doesn't automatically mean you have COVID-19. But if you're having any symptoms that are out of the ordinary, it's a good idea to get tested for COVID as soon as possible—even if you've been fully vaccinated—and self-isolate until you know the results.

RELATED: Virus Expert Says Here's How to Avoid Omicron

3

The Most Common Symptom

People with face mask drinking at coffee house
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One early symptom of COVID-19 is still the same. "As with other variants, it seems that the most common symptom—early or late—is no symptoms at all, especially in young healthy people," says Karen Jubanyik, MD, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and author of Beat the Coronavirus

She adds: "That has always been part of the secret to the success of this virus spreading: that many people, especially young healthy people, are asymptomatic throughout the course of the illness, do not get tested and do not isolate, and spread the virus."

RELATED: What Taking a COVID Booster Does to Your Body

4

Virus Expert Warns There is Still More "Human Wood" to Burn, So Be Careful Out There

Patient refuses to take vaccination.
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"We still have 65 million Americans who could be vaccinated, who are not, and that is more than enough human wood for this coronavirus forest fire to burn," warns virus expert Michael Osterholm. "And so what we've seen happen throughout the world, where basically we don't get a large proportion of our population vaccinated, we see these surges, some countries are now in their fifth surge, where cases go up and they come down. Now we don't really understand why they suddenly start to increase. They suddenly start to decrease. We do know that the level of vaccination has a lot to do with how big that peak of cases happens to be. So in that sense, we have a lot of impact on that surge. So why I'm concerned yet is we still have so sizable number of people who are not vaccinated, the 65 million in the country alone, that's a lot of people to still get infected. So we can very reasonably expect that we could see another surge of cases this winter, for example, but we can do a lot about that if we get people vaccinated."

RELATED: Health Habits You Should Stop Doing After 60, According to Science

5

How to Stay Safe Out There

The female doctor syringe injection to the young patient put on a mask in the hospital
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Follow the fundamentals 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