Delta variant: what are the symptoms and the danger of it spreading so easily

The delta variant of the coronavirus, first identified in India, has spread rapidly around the world.

Because it is highly contagious, this variant is causing new outbreaks in some countries, particularly among unvaccinated people.

And this has led to many governments imposing new restrictions.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that delta is more transmissible than the common cold and influenza viruses, and the viruses that cause smallpox, MERS, SARS, and Ebola.

In an internal document obtained by the New York Times, the CDC indicates that the greatest spread of cases with severe prognoses is occurring in places with low vaccination rates.

In July, the agency also indicated that vaccinated people can also transmit the delta variant, which is not believed to be happening with other variants of the SARS-Cov-2 virus.


The delta variant, also known as B.1.6172, has been noted for its ability to replicate faster than others.

In June, when the delta was the dominant variant in the UK, epidemiologist Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London told the press that this variant is almost 60% more transmissible than the alpha variant (B.1.1.7 ), which was first detected in England.

And currently in the United States, this variant is responsible for more than 80% of infections in that country, mainly among unvaccinated people, the CDC indicates.

“If you are not vaccinated, please take the delta variant seriously,” said Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the CDC, at a news conference at the White House in late July.

“This virus does not seem to have an incentive to die down and is still looking for the next vulnerable person to infect. Please think about vaccinating yourself and taking precautions until you can get immunized.”

Experts stress, however, that approved COVID-19 vaccines being used in the United States, Europe, and other countries appear to be effective in containing the spread of the delta variant.

But the World Health Organization is encouraging even vaccinated people to continue wearing masks, due to high transmission rates of the delta variant and a shortage of vaccines in parts of the world.

One of the main reasons this variant began to spread rapidly around the world was its ability to circumvent border controls and quarantine measures.

Even in Australia, which had been noted for its strict border controls, cases of the delta variant have already been detected.

Another reason for the spread is the relaxation of restrictions and the “fatigue” of social distancing that many people around the world are experiencing.

In addition, experts note, the delta variant is exhibiting distinct symptoms that can easily be mistaken for a common cold.

What are the symptoms

In the UK the most commonly reported symptoms associated with the delta variant are: headache, sore throat and runny nose.

Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King’s College London who leads the so-called Zoe Covid Symptom Study, explains that younger people who contract the delta variant may feel “more like they have a bad cold.”

But even if they do not feel very sick, they can be contagious and put other people at risk, be alert.

According to the expert, the classic symptoms of covid, which include cough, fever and loss of smell or taste, are now less common, according to data his team has been receiving from thousands of people who are registering their symptoms in an app.

“Since the beginning of May, we have been observing the main symptoms of the users of the application, and they are not the same as before,” explains the expert.

Fever is still fairly common, but loss of smell is no longer among the top 10 symptoms, he adds.

This change, he says, appears to be linked to the increase in the elta variant .

“Stay home and get tested”

“This variant seems to work slightly differently,” explains the epidemiologist.

“People may think they just had some kind of seasonal cold and they keep going to parties and they can spread it to other people.”

“We think this is fueling much of the problem.”

The advice of the experts is that the most important symptoms of covid are:

  • continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • loss or change in smell or taste

The authorities indicate that anyone who has one of these symptoms should be tested for covid.

“I think the message here is that if you are young and have any mild symptoms, even if it may seem like a bad cold or a weird feeling … stay home and get tested,” notes Professor Spector.

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