ZOE Study: People with cold symptoms are more likely to have Covid

16:27 December 30, 2021

Up to date:
16:47 30 December 2021

Three-quarters of people with cold-like symptoms are likely to have Covid, new analysis has found.

The ZOE Covid study estimates that although exponential growth in some cases appears to have stopped, 75 per cent. of those with new cold-like symptoms are likely to have symptomatic Covid-19.

This is an increase from around 50 per cent. last week, when the study reported that the data showed a decrease in the number of non-Covid “colds” and an increase in symptomatic coronavirus infections.

It also said that the incidence figures show that there are currently 192,290 new daily symptomatic cases of Covid-19 in the UK on average based on test data from up to three days ago.

This is an increase of 33 per cent. from the 144,284 reported last week.

The study also found that while the increase in cases appeared to be decreasing in age groups under 55, it was “increasing sharply” in the 55 to 75-year-old groups.

It said this was “worrying” because this older age group was at greater risk of needing hospital treatment.

Dr. Claire Steves, a scientist on the ZOE Covid Study app, said that while the number of daily new symptomatic Covid cases was more than double what it was this time last year, the exponential growth seemed to have stopped.

But the reader at King’s College London said symptoms such as sore throat, headache and runny nose should be added to the government’s list of Covid symptoms as soon as possible.

She added: “Fortunately, hospitalization rates are much lower than this time last year, but they are still high, especially in London.

“It is good news to see that fewer people are newly ill than a few weeks ago.

“But the fact that 75 percent of new cold-like symptoms are Covid, and the classic symptoms are much less common, means the government’s advice needs to be updated immediately.

“We want to see symptoms like sore throat, headache and runny nose added to the list as soon as possible.”

Researchers from the study have previously said that the majority of the symptoms of the Omicron variant are like a common cold.


Three-quarters of people with cold-like symptoms are likely to have Covid, new analysis has found.
– Credit: Chris Bishop

The new figures released on Thursday come after a new record was set on Wednesday for the daily number of coronavirus cases, as all four British nations reported their figures for the first time since Christmas Eve.

The UK government said a further 183,037 laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 cases had been registered in the UK by 6 p.m. 9 Wednesday, including reported figures for Northern Ireland covering a five-day period.

But the number 138,287 for England was also the highest recorded.

The ZOE Covid study also found that there were 78,748 new daily symptomatic cases in the vaccinated population – those with at least two doses – across the UK, an increase of 40 per cent. from 56,346 last week.

It is estimated that on average one in 32 people in the UK currently has symptomatic Covid, which has risen to one in 30 in the UK.

The ZOE survey figures are based on reports from around 840,000 weekly contributors.

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