As the Omicron subvariants BA.5 and BA.4 continue to spread across the country, common symptoms of COVID infections are changing with some now becoming more prevalent than others.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Omicron BA.5 subvariant comprises 87.5% of all new COVID cases, while the BA.4.6 variant makes up 9.2% of new infections in the U.S.
These highly infectious strains of the virus are being combated by the latest approval of boosters from Moderna and Pfizer that are specially targeted toward new Omicron mutations.
While people are becoming less ill when infected with COVID-19 due to vaccinations and immune response, some symptoms of the virus remain the same no matter the variant contracted.
One thing that remains constant with the virus regardless of variant are respiratory symptoms, according to Chicago-based Dr. Allison Arwady, as reported by WMAQ, an NBC affiliate out of Chicago.
“In the more recent cases of COVID — which, again, are these newer variants — there’s a few things that I noticed. First of all, the biggest one is that people are so much less likely to get seriously ill. And that means that the immune system is better at as being able to protect against against that severe illness.”
She continued: “We’re seeing a lot of more sore throats, fatigue, still seem some fever, and runny nose.”
Some symptoms that were common in the early days of the pandemic are waning with Arwady explaining, “We’re seeing less of losing taste and smell than we were early on, but we still see some of it.”
A prominent symptom that is persisting in patients is a cough, which Arwady said “tends to be the most lingering effect.”
The CDC said on its website that symptoms of COVID-19 infections range from mild to severe illness, which may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
The agency said that possible symptoms may 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, or diarrhea.
New studies are also saying that first symptoms of COVID-19 are typically cough and muscle pain, with some individuals likely experiencing digestive issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
According to a recent Southern California University study, as reported by the news outlet, digestive symptoms may be one of the first signs for some people that they have contracted the virus.
“I think it’s really variable depending from person to person,” Dr. Sharon Welbel, the director of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control for Cook County Health in Illinois, said, as reported by WMAQ.
“It depends on age, it depends on comorbid illness, it depends on vaccine status, if one has been infected before potentially their you know, immune system is revved up more… So, I think that there’s no way to protect it to predict it,” Welbel added.
More severe symptoms of COVID-19, which the CDC said are “emergency warning signs,” indicate that immediate medical treatment is needed, including trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, and pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone.