EXPERTS have warned that if you suspect you have a cold, it’s actually twice as likely to be Covid.
It comes as a new Omicon strain runs creeping, capable of infecting people who already had Omicron earlier in the year.
The ZOE COVID Study estimates that Covid infections are the highest they have ever been in the UK.
It says there are almost 350,000 new daily symptomatic cases of covid (which doesn’t include those that don’t have symptoms).
And one in 15 people in the UK are currently sick with the bug.
Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the study, said: “Covid is still rampant in the population.
“So much so, that if you have any cold-like symptoms at the moment it’s nearly twice as likely to be Covid as a cold.”
The study reveals that the most common symptoms experienced by those infected are a sore throat, headache, blocked or runny nose, and a cough.
Prof Spector continued: “Even if people have had a past infection and are fully vaccinated, people are still catching it.
“This is because there are multiple Covid variants coexisting at the same time (BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5).
“The good news is that case numbers won’t rise indefinitely and we’re already seeing a slight drop in numbers day to day.
“Although we all want to make the most of the good weatherpeople will need to decide for themselves whether going to large events, working from the office or using busy public transport is worth the risk.”
Hospital admissions are rising and almost at the level seen in January and March – when previous Omicron variants caused outbreaks.
Almost 2,000 patients are being reported as Covid positive per day in England.
Deaths remain relatively low, at around 65 per day in England.
While Omicron sub-variants are considered to be super efficient at spreading, they are also believed to be milder.
It appears the new Omicron strains BA.4 and BA.5 also usually cause no more than a cold-like illness, although scientists are still working this out.
Experts have said it is difficult to tell, because there is such an extreme array of immunity in the population.
A leading American physician warned BA.5 had features of Delta.
Delta took hold in the UK in the spring/summer of 2021, which caused more severe disease than variants that came before.
The UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) said there is “currently no evidence that Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 cause more severe illness than previous variants”.
BA.4 and BA.5 make up more than half of cases in England after only being designated as “a variant of concern” in May.
UKHSA said BA.4 grows 19 per cent faster than the predecessor BA.2, which caused the spring 2022 wave.
But BA.5 is even quicker, growing 35 per cent faster than BA.2
Health chiefs have urged people to ensure their Covid vaccinations are up to date in light of the summer Covid wave.
Five million people aged 75 and over and those who are immunosuppressed should have got their booster over spring.
And NHS England is preparing for an autumn booster program for those over the age of 65 and more vulnerable people.