The Canterbury Hub

Latest news from CCCU's Journalism course


Explainer: Strep A and COVID-19 Compared

COVID-19 and Strep A, or Group A Strep, are both bacterial infections that are impacting our lives right now. Whilst COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted for a while now, Strep A has suddenly appeared presenting a new problem for people.

What is Strep A?

Whilst COVID-19 is a type of virus, more specifically, a coronavirus. strep A is instead a bacterial infection. This means that a vaccine isn’t required to help the infection – antibiotics are, such as penicillin.

Unlike COVID, which even had different strains, strep A is not a new strand of infection, it has just had a large outbreak recently due to how easily it can spread.

In a press release issued by the government, Dr. Colin Brown, who is the Deputy Director for the UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency) said: “In very rare circumstances, [strep-A] can get into the bloodstream and cause serious illness – called invasive Group A strep (iGAS).”

How to spot the difference

The NHS list symptoms for both infections as ‘flu-like symptoms’ which can make it difficult to identify between the two.

Strep-A can cause symptoms such as Scarlet Fever which include causes a sore throat, headache, fever, and most notably, a pink or red body rash that has a sandpapery feel.

Scabs, sores, pain, and swelling are all other differentiating factors when compared to typical coronavirus symptoms.

Tests can also be obtained for either infection. The lateral flow test is designed to give you a quick COVID-19 result, whilst the rapid strep test does the same for group A strep.

What is being done?

The COVID-19 vaccine provided everyone with a measure to help reduce symptoms of the virus, but the government is deploying preventative (prophylactic) antibiotics to combat the infection.

They should only be taken if someone is already confirmed to have a group A strep infection, and not before.

Whilst COVID had primarily affected adults, group A strep is the opposite. There have currently been 5 recorded deaths within 7 days of an invasive group A strep diagnosis; primarily affecting children under the age of 10.

Good hygiene is one of the leading ways to stop it from spreading. Teaching children to properly wash their hands with soap and warm water for twenty seconds is one of the key preventers.


Featured Image Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health