Three quarters of those with colds likely to have Covid, study finds

People queue for coronavirus testing

New analysis from the ZOE Covid Study has found that 75pc of people with cold symptoms are likely to have Covid. - Credit: PA

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

The ZOE Covid Study estimates that, while exponential case growth seems to have stopped, 75pc of those with new cold-like symptoms are likely to have symptomatic Covid-19.

This is up from around 50pc last week, with the study reporting that the data was showing a fall in the number of non-Covid “colds” and a rise in symptomatic coronavirus infections.

It also said that the incidence figures show 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 up 33pc from the 144,284 reported last week.

The study also found that while the rise in cases appeared to be slowing in age groups below 55, it was “rising sharply” in the 55 to 75-year-old groups.

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

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Dr Claire Steves, 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, exponential growth appeared to have stopped.

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

She added: "Hospitalisation rates are thankfully 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 sick than a few weeks ago.

"However, the fact that 75pc of new cold-like symptoms are Covid, and the classic symptoms are much less common, means the government advice needs to be urgently updated.

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

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

Covid

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

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

The UK government said that a further 183,037 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases had been recorded in the UK as of 9am on Wednesday, including reported figures for Northern Ireland covering a five-day period.

But the 138,287 figure 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, up 40pc from 56,346 last week.

It estimates that on average one in 32 people in the UK currently have symptomatic Covid, rising to one in 30 in England.

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