How to tell if you’ve got a summer cold or Covid – as common symptoms shift due to Delta strain

MOST people associate a cold with the winter, but colds are also prevalent in the summer months so it's important you know the difference between the sniffles and Covid-19.

The Delta variant is currently sweeping the UK and experts have warned that common Covid symptoms could be different in people catching this strain.

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Throughout the pandemic the NHS has stated that the three main symptoms of Covid-19 include a new persistent cough, a loss of taste and smell and a high temperature.

If you have any of these symptoms you should get a test – but experts have now warned that the Delta variant could mean people display different symptoms.

If you are under 40, the signs to look for now are a headache, sore throat and runny nose, according to data.

If you are over 40, the key signs are a headache, runny nose and sneezing.

A leading professor says the Delta variant, first identified in India, seems to “working slightly differently”.

However, it could also be because Covid is currently causing an epidemic in young people, and symptoms are known to vary by age group. 


The ZOE Covid Symptom Study has been tracking the Covid outbreak since March 2020, with millions of Brits reporting their symptoms on an app.

Prof Tim Spector, the lead on the study, told The Telegraph: “Since the start of May, we’ve been looking at the top symptoms and they are not the same as they were.

“Number one is headache followed by sore throat, runny nose and fever. 

“All those are not the old classic symptoms, number five is cough, so it’s rarer and we don’t even see loss of smell coming into the top 10 anymore. 

“This variant seems to be working slightly differently.”

A headache is recently showing to be the most common sign, affecting 66 per cent of under 40s and 53 per cent of over 40s.

Over 40s have less symptoms now and their top symptoms are very mild, due to vaccines.

None of their symptoms are the classic three of a cough, fever, or loss of smell.

A loss of taste or smell is no longer in the top 10 symptoms generally, the app has recently found.


Most people think that cold winter weather is the reason you get a cold, but you can also get a cold in the summer.

Dr Belinda Griffiths from The Fleet Street Clinic in London said symptoms of a common cold include: sneezing, running nose and a sore throat.

In most cases of a cold – Dr Griffiths said you won't develop a high temperature – which is one of the NHS's key Covid symptoms to look out for.

Dr Griffiths said: "In most cases, you will not develop a temperature.

"Fever chills and muscle aches rarely occur in the common cold, but can happen.

"With a common cold you can usually expect to see an improvement after less than a week, although this can vary."

Expert Kristoffer Ahlerup, director at Enzymatic said it's even more likely that the cold virus will be on the up this year.

He explained that there will be a decrease in a immunity against the cold as many people have been reducing social contact and working from home.

The said: "The Public Health England data shows that the share of tests coming back positive for Rhinovirus has risen significantly since the start of this year.

"For children aged from five to 14, nearly 30 per cent of tests were positive at the beginning of April compared with none in late January and early February, showing a link to the return of playgroups and schools.

"Other parts of the world, such as Australia, have seen a surge in colds.2

Kristoffer said that the dominance of the pandemic has meant that there hasn't been much talk of the common cold.

He said it might feel strange to now be met with cold or flu symptoms.

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