Epidemiologist professor Michael Baker says the spectrum of symptoms experienced by people with the UK variant of Covid-19 is quite broad – and can include muscle aches and fatigue.
Several people in the country’s newest Covid-19 cluster have reported experiencing muscle aches and fatigue.
Those in the cluster, 11 people, all have the UK variant of the virus.
The UK Variant – also known as B.1.1.7 – was first found in September of 2020 and has since spread throughout the world.
A study carried out by the UK Office of National Statistics surveyed Covid-19 patients between 15 November and 16 January and found the variant to be up to 70 percent more infectious than the original strain.
Fatigue, headaches and muscle pain were all common symptoms of people with the UK variant of Covid-19.
The study found cough to be the most common, with 35 percent of people with the UK variant reporting this symptom, followed by fatigue (32 percent), headache (32 percent) and muscle aches (25 percent).
Only 16 percent of people lost their sense of taste and 15 percent lost their sense of smell, compared with 19 percent of people with the original strain.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield wants people to be aware that muscle aches and fatigue are also symptoms of Covid-19.
“I just want to emphasise that several of our recent cases with this new variant have had what one might call atypical symptoms where their main symptom has been muscle aches and feeling tired rather than typical respiratory symptoms,” he said.
“Sometimes people ascribe these symptoms to other things such as post exercise muscle discomfort, sore muscles. So, if people could just keep that in mind.”
University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker spoke to Nathan Rarere on First Up about these symptoms.
“We always talk about flu and cold symptoms and its partly because viruses, when you have those infections, don’t always produce respiratory symptoms – they can produce fatigue and muscle aches.
“The spectrum of flu symptoms is quite broad and that’s what we seem to be seeing more often with this particular variant.”
He said unfortunately the fatigue you may feel when you have Covid-19 will not feel any different than a usual tiredness.
“It’s very general symptoms.”
Auckland University vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris said less typical symptoms would make it more challenging to identify infected people.
Yesterday, a second batch of 76,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in the country.
Petoussis-Harris said the roll-out of those vaccines is crucial to combating variants of the virus.
“It’s one of those things that just emphasises how important it is that we can knock this thing back as fast as possible and that’s a global effort. The fewer people that are harbouring the virus the less it’s going to be able to change and then the less we have to worry about these variants popping up.”
“We’ve got to beat it back as fast as possible, everywhere”.
She said preliminary studies suggest the Pfizer vaccine is effective against the UK variant but warns as the virus mutates it will need to be closely monitored.
“The variants that are going to be a problem are the ones that involve changing the shape of that infamous little spike protein enough for it to avoid a person’s immunity.
“The ones that can evade your immunity are more problematic and that’s what’s going to entail tweaking the vaccine and the formulation to be able to target those new variants, if and when they emerge.”
It is still unknown how the index family at the centre of the Paptoetoe High School outbreak became infected with the UK strain of the virus.
An onsite testing station at the school will be open from 9am until 3pm today with the school undergoing a deep clean before it reopens.