Detecting Delta: Symptoms associated with the COVID-19 variant

August 9, 2021 - 3:46 PM
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People wearing face masks as protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) queue outside a government office, in Caloocan City, Metro Manila, Philippines, February 1, 2021. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

The COVID-19 Delta variant has been called by the World Health Organization as the “fastest and fittest” among the SARS-CoV-2 variants.

How can one distinguish it from others through symptoms?

The Department of Health in its primer indicates that it is “impossible” to detect the variant merely through exhibited symptoms alone since common flu-like symptoms are also signs of the viral disease. These are:

  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Fever

The DOH advised the public to continue observing minimum public health standards such as the wearing of face shields and face masks and maintaining physical distance from others.

People are also advised that once they have any of the symptoms to immediately self-isolate and consult with a doctor “to keep a step ahead” of the virus.

A Facebook post by the Manchester City Council, a local authority for a metropolitan borough in England, suggests that among the “new symptoms” of the Delta variant involve diarrhea, aching muscles, vomiting and feeling tired and unwell.

For an infectious disease expert, COVID-19 patients infected with the variant appear to have symptoms with “much more gastrointestinal (GI) involvement.”

“Not that we didn’t see it before with our beginning strains, but here we are with the delta and I see more GI issues of diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea—a lot of nausea, too,” Dr. Leslie Diaz said to an interview with WPTV.

Patients were also described as having “wicked sore throat” and high body temperatures, she said.

Having a persistent cough is likewise associated with the variant, according to Dr. Lara Herrero, a research leader in virology and infectious disease at Griffith University.

The Delta variant (B.1.617.2) is a mutated COVID-19 virus that was first detected in India and is said to be associated with evading immune protection, reduced antibody neutralization and increased transmissibility.

If the Alpha variant first detected in the United Kingdom potentially infects 4 to 5 people, the Delta can infect as many as 5 to 8 people.

The Alpha variant is already more contagious than the original variant detected in Wuhan, China, which can infect 2.4 to 2.6 people.

Dr. Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program, previously said that the Delta variant has the potential “to be more lethal because it’s efficient in the way it transmits between humans.”

“It will eventually find those vulnerable individuals who will become severely ill, have to be hospitalized and potentially die,” he said at a news conference.

“This particular delta variant is faster, it is fitter, it will pick off the more vulnerable more efficiently than previous variants, and therefore, if there are people left without vaccination, they remain even at further risk,” Ryan added before.