Recent figures indicate the spread of the coronavirus is showing few signs of slowing, with tens of thousands of cases recorded each day. The common cold, however, which also tends to favour colder months, is on the rise. This has sowed confusion about which virus is behind the fast-spreading illness described by many as the “worst cold ever.”
Hundreds of thousands of people have been hit by the common cold in recent weeks, with many claiming it is more fierce than ever before.
Mounting evidence suggests the illness – dubbed the “worst cold ever” – is spreading fast, fanning concerns among scientists that it may in fact be coronavirus.
It is widely believed the surge has been fuelled by a sharp dip in immunity, following a year of social restrictions.
Speaking on Radio 1 Newsbeat, Rebecca London, a retail worker from Bournemouth detailed her symptoms after supposedly contracting the cold at a festival.
She said it “was nothing like” a normal cold, which would normally produce “a runny nose, sneezing, a bit of a sore throat and feeling a bit rundown”.
She added: “I barely slept, I’d wake up in the night just coughing, a constantly runny nose and feeling so tired.”
The 24-year-old, whose two lateral flow tests produced negative results, claims she was left wondering “if it’s ever going to end.”
Thousands of Twitter users have taken to the platform to report similar instances in recent weeks, many of them double-jabbed.
Lead scientists have warned that many of those in the grips of the familiar symptoms may be suffering from COVID-19.
A scientist behind the ZOE Covid study app, has warned that “ignorance” about symptoms could drive up caseloads in the coming months.
Professor Tim Spector, the lead scientist on the app, explained that the common cold was easy to confuse with the coronavirus.
He added: “The UK still has more cases than most of Europe and I believe this is for two main reasons; the first is a lack of masks and social distancing and the second is because we’re ignorant of the symptoms.
“We should be looking out for things like sore throat, runny nose and sneezing.
“The classic three – cough, fever and anosmia are rare these days, yet the government has done nothing.
“By not updating advice, we’re letting people into care homes, schools, workplaces and large gatherings displaying known signs of Covid.”
“Roughly one in 80 people in the UK have Covid. If we don’t wake up to the fact that these cold-like symptoms could be Covid, we will continue to keep numbers high, putting unnecessary strain on an exhausted NHS.”
The ZOE app last month warned that the coronavirus symptoms encountered by the double-vaccinated have a lot in common with those of a cold.
A blocked or runny nose, a sore throat, headaches, coughs and a loss of smell are the five symptoms most commonly reported by the double-jabbed, according to the NHS.
To date, the COVID-19 vaccine has proven outstanding at breaking the link between infection and severe illness.
As the months after vaccination pass, however, protection against mild symptoms, in particular, wanes.