Throughout the pandemic, COVID has most often presented with the same handful of symptoms, such as a cough, fever, headache, and body aches—as well as a few odd outliers like COVID toes and rashes. Now, the new variant driving the second wave of infections in India, which has also made its way to the U.S., is causing some new serious symptoms that you need to know about.
"Last year, we thought we had learned about our new enemy, but it changed," Abdul Ghafur, MD, an infectious disease physician in India, told Bloomberg. "This virus has become so, so unpredictable."
Bloomberg heard from six doctors across India to get an idea of the range of symptoms the India variant—also known as the Delta variant—is causing. The doctors said they've seen stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, hearing loss, joint pain, swelling around the neck, tonsillitis, and blood clots.
In some cases, the blood clots (called microthrombi) have been so severe they lead to gangrene, with some patients even requiring amputation, Mumbai cardiologist Ganesh Manudhane, MD, told Bloomberg. "I saw three to four cases the whole of last year, and now it's one patient a week," he added.
The Delta variant appears to be the most infectious strain of COVID thus far. The Times of India reported that one study found that the Delta variant is 50 percent more contagious than the Alpha variant, which began in the U.K. Data from Public Health England suggests the strain also has a higher risk of hospitalization. According to Bloomberg, the variant is now present in over 60 countries.
During a White House COVID-19 task force press briefing on June 8, White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, said that 6 percent of sequenced cases in the U.S. are now caused by the Delta variant. He also noted that data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that the Pfizer vaccine is 88 percent effective against symptomatic COVID cases caused by the Delta variant two weeks after the second dose.