Headache, fatigue, loss of smell, fever and a persistent cough are the five most common symptoms of Covid-19 being reported to the UK’s Covid Symptom Study app right now.
Lead researcher Professor Tim Spector, from King’s College London, tells HuffPost UK these symptoms haven’t significantly changed since the start of the pandemic.
The most common symptoms of Covid vary slightly in children and the over-70s, he adds. The top five symptoms in school aged children who test positive are: fatigue, headache, fever, sore throat and loss of appetite.
The app also found that one in six (15%) children who test positive present with an unusual skin rash.
Data on symptoms in the over-70s should be available in the next few days.
The NHS acknowledges three key symptoms of Covid-19 that warrant a test: fever, continuous cough, and loss, or change to, a person’s taste or sense of smell.
This is reinforced by a study of nearly 25,000 cases, which found a persistent cough and fever were the most common symptoms associated with Covid-19, followed by fatigue, losing the ability to smell and difficulty breathing.
As cases rise in the UK, Prof Spector is urging people to sign up to report their daily symptoms in the app, which he says “has become an essential tool in the fight against Covid-19 in the UK”.
The app estimates that 119,235 people in the UK have symptomatic Covid. Millions of people are logging how they feel (even if they’re feeling well) every day. This, says Prof Spector, is helping the app’s team detect hotspots earlier than other sources.
While the UK’s chief medical and scientific officers suggested at the start of the week the UK is facing 6,000 new infections a day, the Covid symptom study suggests this is more like 12,700 per day.
“Our work with King’s College London has produced a wealth of invaluable research into how Covid-19 affects people, including confirming that loss of smell was a key symptom,” Prof Spector says. “The app’s algorithm is also able to predict whether or not someone might have Covid-19 based on their symptoms.”
Prof Spector is urging people in Northern Ireland to start logging symptoms, so they can gather more insights into the spread of the virus. “The more people we have, the more accurate our predictions are,” he says.
He is also interested in getting more results of children’s symptoms on the app, so is encouraging parents to start logging for the whole family. You can do this by clicking onto the app and saying you are logging on behalf of someone else.
“This will help us really see what is happening in the population and hopefully help keep schools open for as long as possible,” he adds.