Deaths involving COVID-19 are consistently lower for people who have received two vaccinations. Although the vaccines are doing a great job at reducing severe illness, hospitalisations and deaths, you can still contract the virus and pass it on even if you have been vaccinated.
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Loss of smell (anosmia).
If you are yet to have your COVID-19 jab, the the most common symptoms are:
- Runny Nose
- Sore Throat
- Persistent cough.
The study app outlines that loss of smell (anosmia) comes further down the list for unvaccinated people, however, it is still an important predictor of having COVID-19 rather than a regular cold.
Taken together, all the evidence from the ongoing ZOE study points to one conclusion: you should self-isolate and get a COVID-19 test if you notice any changes to your sense of smell or taste, even if you feel well otherwise.
It is particularly important to stay home and get tested if you have any other symptoms, such as tiredness, headache, fever or a new, persistent cough, especially if you’ve been “pinged” for having been in contact with someone who has tested positive.
It can be difficult to notice changes to your sense of smell as you go about your daily activities, but you can easily check for anosmia at home using things with distinctive smells like coffee, garlic or lemon.
ZOE’s researchers at King’s College London along with global scientists have been looking back over data from the first wave of the pandemic in 2020 and comparing it with information from other community science platforms worldwide to find out whether the same symptoms and predictions hold up in different populations.
Furthermore, someone with either of those symptoms was 17 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than someone without.
On top of this, loss of smell or taste remained the best predictor of a positive test result regardless of a person’s age, sex, or illness severity. However, the team’s analysis also showed that having a high temperature and shortness of breath or coughing were also strongly associated with having a positive COVID-19 test.
The analysis confirms the findings early in the pandemic that loss of smell is a strong predictor of a COVID-19 infection. Thanks to those findings, anosmia was added to the list of official symptoms to get an NHS PCR test, alongside cough and fever.
The results of the study are published in the Lancet Digital Health.