What are the most common COVID symptoms?

ZOE is still tracking COVID-19 in the United Kingdom, thanks to the thousands of contributors who continue to log their symptoms in the ZOE Health Study app. 

The most common symptoms of COVID-19

Since the start of the pandemic, ZOE has continually reported the most common COVID symptoms and how they’ve changed over time.

These symptoms have changed for a few reasons, including the introduction of vaccines and the emergence of new variants.

Like every virus, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is constantly evolving, in terms of its ability to spread and the symptoms it causes.

According to the latest data from the ZOE Health Study — from the 30 days before December 5th, 2022 — the top symptoms reported by contributors with positive COVID tests are:

  1. a sore throat

  2. a runny nose

  3. a blocked nose

  4. sneezing

  5. a cough without phlegm

  6. a headache

  7. a cough with phlegm

  8. a hoarse voice

  9. muscle aches and pains

  10. an altered sense of smell

We used to report the top 5 symptoms. But over time, we've seen that these change frequently. So, we're now reporting the top 10 symptoms, which remain more stable.

The order of these symptoms is based on contributor reports in the app and doesn’t take into account which variant caused the infection or any demographic information.

What about a fever and loss of taste and smell?

The previous “traditional” symptoms, such as loss of smell (anosmia), shortness of breath, and a fever, are much less common these days.

In the list of common symptoms, anosmia ranks 14th, and shortness of breath ranks 16th. Anosmia used to be a key indicator of COVID-19, but only about 16% of people with the illness now experience it.

What about the rest of the symptoms?

ZOE was among the first to show that there’s a huge range of COVID-19 symptoms.

If you’re wondering whether a symptom you have might be from COVID-19, check out our symptom series blog for more information about each symptom.

What should I do if I have any symptoms?

If your throat starts to feel sore, you’re starting to sneeze more often, or you’re newly sick with any other symptom linked to COVID-19, the best idea is to rest at home and take a test.

This is particularly important if you live or work with people who have a greater risk from the disease.

Sneezing is a key way that viruses spread. Try to cover all coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow to minimize the spread of droplets. And avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth until you’ve washed your hands.

Whether you’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine or not, it’s important to be careful to protect your health and the health of those around you — in your family, workplace, and community.

Stay safe and keep logging.