‘We’d been quite careful for most of the pandemic, wearing masks and avoiding many big events. But I was pretty confident that, if I did get it, I would be fine because I’d had my jabs. But I couldn’t get out of bed for days and it took almost a month for me to fully recover.’
It is very hard to tell the difference between Covid and a cold without testing
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, if you got a sniffle and a headache, you might dismiss it as an ordinary cold and carry on as normal, even if you felt a little rough around the edges. But during cold and flu season, how can you be sure it’s a cold and not the coronavirus?
The common cold is caused by a different strain of virus to Covid-19. But with the rapidly-spreading Omicron variant often causing mild symptoms, such as stuffy nose, sore head and sore throat, it is very hard to tell the difference without testing.
The Zoe Covid study team has been tracking the pandemic using feedback from the general public, and estimates half of people with cold-like symptoms actually have Covid.
They describe an “explosion” of Covid cases over the last week, driven by the new Omicron variant.
The real-world study includes data on positive Covid PCR test results between May and July 2021 among more than a million people who had received two doses of Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine.
Protection after two shots of Pfizer decreased from 88% at one month to 74% at five to six months.
For AstraZeneca, the fall was from 77% to 67% at four to five months.
Just 851.2 people per 100,000 died last month – the lowest figure since the ONS started recording mortality rates in 2001. At the height of the first wave of the Covid pandemic last April, death rates were 1,859 per 100,000.
The latest figures show that 38,899 people died in April – 6.1 per cent fewer than the five-year average.
Just 2.4 per cent of all deaths mentioned Covid on the death certificate, a 77.6 per cent decrease from March and the largest month-on-month decline since the pandemic began.
The new data provide more evidence that the NHS is in little danger of being overwhelmed in the near future, with deaths from most causes lower than normal. Covid is now the ninth most common cause of death in England and Wales, behind conditions including heart disease, dementia, several cancers and influenza.