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One in four colds could actually be Covid

Fully vaccinated adults who get Covid can now only experience symptoms similar to those of a cold, says professor

  • Professor Tim Spector said fully vaccinated adults often get mild cold symptoms
  • Warned that many infected people ‘went to parties and spread it’
  • The professor of genetic epidemiology called on anyone with symptoms to self-isolate until they get a negative test result



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One in three people with sniffles or cold symptoms actually have the coronavirus, a study suggests.

Professor Tim Spector, who is conducting a Covid study tracking data from a million Britons, said fully vaccinated adults tended to develop only mild cold-like symptoms.

He warned that many people who were infected therefore “went to parties and spread it.”

The professor of genetic epidemiology urged anyone with symptoms, such as a runny nose or sore throat, to self-isolate and avoid all Christmas parties until they got a negative test result.

Professor Tim Spector (pictured), who is conducting a Covid study tracking data from a million Britons, said fully vaccinated adults tended to develop only mild cold-like symptoms

Professor Tim Spector (pictured), who is conducting a Covid study tracking data from a million Britons, said fully vaccinated adults tended to develop only mild cold-like symptoms

Professor Spector, who leads the King’s College London Zoe Covid study, said: ‘Right now we estimate that somewhere between one in three and one in four colds are actually due to Covid.’

He told Times Radio that the UK needs to be ‘much more open-minded about who we test’ and ‘have more people isolated, at least for a few days with cold symptoms’.

“That’s a pretty high percentage of people who currently don’t even bother getting a lateral flow test, or a PCR test, go to parties and spread it,” he said.

“So if that gets handed over to Omicron, we’ll amplify that problem much faster than necessary.”

Professor Spector said that to curb the spread of Omicron, people should stay home for a few days if they develop signs of a cold, just to be safe.

Scientists are hopeful that the Omicron variant will not cause more severe symptoms and that the T-cell immunity provided by vaccines will prevent serious illness.  T cells are a type of white blood cell that kills Covid (stock image)

Scientists are hopeful that the Omicron variant will not cause more severe symptoms and that the T-cell immunity provided by vaccines will prevent serious illness.  T cells are a type of white blood cell that kills Covid (stock image)

Scientists are hopeful that the Omicron variant will not cause more severe symptoms and that the T-cell immunity provided by vaccines will prevent serious illness. T cells are a type of white blood cell that kills Covid (stock image)

He added: ‘That’s when you’re most contagious, you’re most likely to transmit.

“Whether it’s a respiratory virus, you just give someone a cold, or maybe you give them Omicron or Delta, it’s those first few days.

“And so we really have to encourage people not to come to the office, not to go to that Christmas party if they’re not feeling well. Take a test and if the symptoms go away, they can come out – it doesn’t have to be ten days, but just those first few days are probably the most crucial.

“I think we need to get that message out if we really want to make an impact in the coming weeks.

“Everyone needs to be much more aware of a whole range of symptoms and not wait for the loss of smell or taste that may never come, not wait for a fever, not wait for that lingering cough.”

Scientists are hopeful that the Omicron variant will not cause more severe symptoms and that the T-cell immunity provided by vaccines will prevent serious illness. T cells are a type of white blood cell that kills Covid.

Matthew Snape, an associate professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said yesterday that trials were underway in the UK to see how well Omicron bypassed the vaccine's immunity (stock image)

Matthew Snape, an associate professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said yesterday that trials were underway in the UK to see how well Omicron bypassed the vaccine's immunity (stock image)

Matthew Snape, an associate professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said yesterday that trials were underway in the UK to see how well Omicron bypassed the vaccine’s immunity (stock image)

Matthew Snape, an associate professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said yesterday that trials are underway in the UK to see how well Omicron bypassed the vaccine’s immunity.

He said: ‘The coming weeks will be so revealing and important – both as we get lab data back, but also if we start to see some knock-on effect from infections impacting hospitalizations and deaths.

‘Even if there is no increase in severity of’ [Omicron], which is great and very promising… an increasing number of infections means that more people have serious illness because more people are infected.

‘That can happen. That will become apparent in the coming weeks. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in December and early January.’

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