Omicron symptoms: BA.2 variant more likely to cause ‘full package of symptoms’ and could pose long Covid risk

Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist of the ZOE Covid Study app, has warned that people who contract Omicron BA.2 are likely to suffer from more than five symptoms

People who are infected with the BA.2 variant of Omicron are more likely to suffer from “a package of symptoms”, a leading scientist has warned.

Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist of the ZOE Covid Study app, said that the variant is less serious than the BA.1 sublineage, with symptoms generally being milder, but it is still unclear whether the variant may increase the likelihood of long Covid.

BA.2, also known as “Stealth Omicron”, is currently the dominant variant of Covid in the UK and has a faster transmission rate than the original Omicron strain.

The variant is about 1.4 times more infectious than BA.1, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and now accounts for 94% of coronavirus cases in England.

People who contract Omicron BA.2 are likely to suffer from more than five symptoms (Composite: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld)

What symptoms are more common of Omicron BA.2?

The Omicron variant has been found to cause a wider variety of symptoms than those first reported at the start of the pandemic, when only three signs were linked to the virus.

The recently expanded NHS list now reflects the diversity of symptoms that the virus can cause, with many being very similar to the common cold and flu.

Symptoms linked to BA.2 generally appear to be less severe than BA.1 (the original Omicron variant), which is reflected in the lower hospitalisation rate, but Prof Spector warned that people are likely to suffer from at least five symptoms if they are infected.

Speaking in his latest YouTube update, he said: “What we are seeing is that people have more symptoms, even if they’re mild, and we’re seeing greater numbers with more than five symptoms.

“We can see there is less headache, less abdominal pain, particularly with BA.2 compared to BA.1, but the overall picture really is reduced hospitalisation by about half, and about 50% more people having more than five symptoms.

“Early signs are that if you get it (BA.2) you are going to get a full package of symptoms and be less likely to go to hospital.

“What we don’t know is whether you might be slightly more likely to get long Covid, but it’s less serious which is good news.”

Prof Spector listed the key symptoms associated with the BA.2 variant, based on data from the ZOE Covid app, and highlighted that people are likely to experience a range of these if infected. The most common symptoms linked to the variant are listed first:

  • Runny nose
  • Delirium
  • Loss of smell
  • Rash
  • Sneezing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Swollen glands
  • Red welts on face or lips
  • Dizzy/light-headed
  • Persistent cough
  • Brain fog
  • Skipped meals
  • Fever
  • Ear ringing
  • Altered smell
  • Sore throat
  • Chills or shivers
  • Diarrhoea
  • Earache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blisters on feet
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Eye soreness
  • Feeling down
  • Chest pains
  • Unusual joint pains

Which symptoms are less common of the BA.2 variant?

The following five symptoms are less common of the BA.2 variant, according to the ZOE Covid study, and are more likely to be caused by the BA.1 Omicron strain:

  • Skin burning
  • Unusual muscle pains
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hair loss
  • Headache

The NHS recommends that you stay at home and avoid contact with others if you have any Covid symptoms, as well as a high temperature, or if you do not feel well enough to go to work to do your normal activities.