Tim Spector shares pharyngitis is 'top' Covid symptom amid 'alarming' increase in cases


The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show “an alarming increase” in Covid cases, with Omicron BA.5 remaining responsible for the stark rise in infections, according to a leading immunologist. One in 35 people in England is currently ill with coronavirus, bringing the total number of infections to over one and a half million. Fortunately, Professor Tim Spector has shared the most prevalent Covid sign.

Professor Spector said the number one symptom, seen in 66 percent of Zoe app’s Covid-positive users, is currently pharyngitis.

Pharyngitis, better known as sore throat, details any discomfort, pain, or scratchiness that can often make swallowing uncomfortable.

Speaking on Zoe’s YouTube, the professor said: “You can see that sore throat is common to both [cold and Covid].

“At the moment, sore throat is common in over 60 percent of both of these.

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“In a cold, you’re more like to have a runny nose than for Covid, where a runny nose is not so frequent.

“If you’ve got a really bad sore throat with Covid, you’re not having any sneezing, runny nose or other signs, you’re less likely [to have a cold].”

However, Professor Spector also added that the most reliable way of determining whether pharyngitis stems from Covid or cold remains getting tested.

Furthermore, Zoe’s website adds some characteristic features that could help link this achy sign to a Covid infection, ranging from the time of onset to its severity.


The health portal reports: “A sore throat is an early symptom of COVID-19, usually appearing in the first week of illness and improving quite quickly. 

“It feels worse on the first day of infection but gets better on each following day.”

This “top” sign often lasts for two to three days; however, it can also stick with you for up to a week.

However, persistent sore throat that is especially painful could be pointing to a bacterial infection instead, Zoe adds.

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According to Spector, other prevalent Covid symptoms that could also help reveal the virus include:

  • Cough (with or without phlegm)
  • Blocked nose
  • Runny nose.

The NHS adds that fever, fatigue, muscle pains, headaches and stomach problems could also be red flags.

As people are no longer required to self-isolate by law when they fall ill with Covid, Professor Denis Kinane, leading immunologist and founding Scientist at Cignpost Diagnostics, shared that taking precautions is especially important.

Kinane said: “The latest figures, with one in 35 infected, show a sharp uptick in the virus’ transmissibility and are deeply concerning. 

“No one wants to see a return of lockdowns and stringent restrictions. 

“We need to adopt responsible practices to prevent a winter surge and the risk of overwhelming the NHS.

“Reasonable precautions include using face masks in enclosed spaces, especially at mass participation events, getting tested in case of the appearance of even minor symptoms, avoiding socialising in crowded indoor venues, and maintaining adequate social distancing when interacting with vulnerable or immunocompromised individuals.”



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