These Are Now the Top 5 Symptoms of ‘Breakthrough’ COVID-19

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Sick woman blowing her nose
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Vaccination against COVID-19 is not a guarantee you won’t become ill. Now, researchers say people infected after vaccination are reporting symptoms that differ somewhat from those of unvaccinated people who have the virus.

Before you worry, let’s get this out of the way: If you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you are unlikely to get sick, much less to die.

The vaccines appear to be overwhelmingly effective in protecting against COVID-19, including the new delta variant that is becoming the dominant strain in some parts of the world.

But that doesn’t mean inoculation is foolproof. Some vaccinated people have gotten sick. And an even smaller number have died.

When a vaccinated person becomes infected with the coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, it is known as a “breakthrough” infection.

The Zoe COVID Symptom Study app — a not-for-profit initiative launched by health science company Zoe, with scientific analysis provided by King’s College London — is finding that people with such infections tend to report a few key symptoms.

The study told CNBC on Wednesday that the following lists represent the current most common symptoms reported by to the app.

The top five symptoms fully-vaccinated-but-infected people are reporting to the app are:

  1. Headache
  2. Runny nose
  3. Sneezing
  4. Sore throat
  5. Loss of smell

The study notes that what have been considered “traditional” symptoms of COVID-19 are now less common in breakthrough cases among people who are fully vaccinated:

“Anosmia (loss of smell), shortness of breath and fever rank way down the list, at 5, 29 and 12 respectively. A persistent cough now ranks at number 8 if you’ve had two vaccine doses, so is no longer the top indicator of having COVID.”

Among people who became sick after one vaccine dose, however, a persistent cough is more common. The symptoms they most commonly report are:

  1. Headache
  2. Runny nose
  3. Sore throat
  4. Sneezing
  5. Persistent cough

Most of these symptoms also are reported by those who are unvaccinated, with a fever being a key difference:

  1. Headache
  2. Sore throat
  3. Runny nose
  4. Fever
  5. Persistent cough

The symptoms commonly reported by unvaccinated people also have changed since the pandemic started. The Zoe COVID Symptom Study explains:

“Loss of smell comes in at number 9 and shortness of breath comes far down the list at number 30, indicating the symptoms as recorded previously are changing with the evolving variants of the virus.”

In addition, those who have been vaccinated but still become infected tend to report fewer symptoms over a shorter period. This suggests that vaccinated people who get COVID-19 are less likely to get seriously ill, and that they are bouncing back quickly after being infected, CNBC reports.

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