Delta or omicron? Here are the different COVID-19 variant symptoms you need to know

Knowing common symptoms helps you figure out when to isolate, test

Experts are seeing some differences in symptoms with the various COVID-19 variants. The differences may be small, but local doctors say it's important to know about them.

SAN ANTONIO – Every COVID-19 variant comes from a mutation, a small accidental change in the virus’s genetic code. The changes that help the virus spread more successfully become mainstream, like the delta and the omicron variants.

“The variants are still the coronavirus. It’s still SARS-CoV-2. It doesn’t mutate so much that it becomes a whole different monster,” said Dr. Ruth Berggren, an infectious disease expert with UT Health San Antonio.

However, as each new variant appears, differences are noted. For example, delta causes more severe illness, and omicron is more infectious.

Experts also see some differences in symptoms. Berggren said even though the differences are small, people need to know about them.

“It appears that with omicron, there is less impact on loss of taste or smell. It still exists maybe 12% or so, whereas previously it was well above a quarter of people were experiencing loss of taste or smell,” Berggren explained.

If you’re suddenly waking up with bad night sweats, Berggren said that could be omicron. It’s a symptom she said wasn’t prominent with delta and previous variants.

“I’m personally hearing a lot of headache with omicron that I didn’t hear so much with delta,” she said.

Knowing the common symptoms of the current variants can give you more insight as to when you should stay home, isolate, and take a COVID-19 test, which you should do if you have any symptoms.

Still, Berggren said this is the same virus at its core, and the main symptoms for COVID-19 in general are still the same:

  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

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About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.