COVID-19 has morphed and changed, with new variants appearing all the time. This is normal for a virus. The Delta variant was another concerning strain of the novel coronavirus. It was more contagious at the time of discovery than previous variants but has since been found to be less contagious than the following variant, Omicron. Nevertheless, Delta had a severe and devastating impact on people and economies around the world. Here’s our take on it.
The Delta variant was first discovered in late 2020 in India. Until the discovery of the new variant it accounted for more than 99% of cases and caused an overwhelming number of hospitalisations. A study by the COVID ZOE app showed that Delta caused symptoms of runny nose, headache, sore throat, sneezing and feeling fatigued. This was different to the original COVID-19 strain, where the symptoms were fever, continuous cough and loss of sense of smell or taste. People who are not vaccinated are still at most risk. So it’s important to follow safety measures to keep you and your loved ones safe – depending on government guidance, this might be wearing a mask, washing hands, keeping your distance, and isolating if you’ve had close contact with COVID or tested positive. They emphasise that receiving vaccinations and the booster are the best thing you can do to protect yourself from any current strain of COVID-19.
If you have coronavirus, there is no way to find out which variant you have, any test results will not be made available, and it doesn’t change the need to isolate for a set period. There are two tests available for COVID-19. For those with symptoms, you should order a free PCR test, either via the government website or by attending a test centre. This can take 1 to 3 days to come back, and is free. The lateral flow test is done at home and gives a result 20 to 30 minutes later. This used to be free, but is now only available to buy from pharmacies or retailers, unless you're in a vulnerable category. If positive for either test, you should isolate for at least 5 days, but this is no longer enforced by law for those living in England.