Two new Covid variants are under scrutiny – HV.1 and JN.1. While experts try and better understand their transmissibility, Dr Bruno Silvester Lopes, a lecturer in microbiology at Teesside University, said it’s important to note that all variants show similar symptoms.
One symptom of Covid listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is red and irritated eyes.
While it’s considered a less common symptom of Covid, Dr Lopes said red and irritated eyes can show with an infection with new variants.
He said: “Irritated eyes due to Covid can be teary or watery, as well as pink in colour with redness.
“Sometimes they can also be painful or swollen with a burning or itchy sensation.”
The JN.1 strain is derived from a sub-variant of Omicron – the dominant variant in 2022.
First identified in Luxembourg, it’s not been seen in the UK, across Europe and the US.
Dr Lopes previously told Express.co.uk: “The JN.1 variant has specific mutations which helps it to evade the human immune response.”
The HV.1 strain has evolved from EG.5, also known as the Eris variant, which is closely related with XBB.1.5 – a sub-variant of Omicron, and is predominantly being found in the US at the moment.
Dr Lopes said: “This variant does not seem to produce more severe disease than other circulating variants, and doesn’t seem to evade immunity provided by COVID-19 vaccines.”
While symptoms of the new variants largely mirror those we’ve become familiar with throughout the pandemic, Dr Chris Papadopoulos, Principal Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Bedfordshire, recommended looking out for some specific signs.
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
Dr William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, also told Today.com: “Congestion, sore throat and dry cough seem to be the three most prominent symptoms right now.”