The new, possibly more contagious coronavirus variant that has been spreading in Europe and has been identified in at least 18 other countries, including Germany, Sweden, France, Canada, and Japan, does not cause more severe illness or have a higher death rate, a major study has suggested.
Susan Hopkins, senior medical adviser to Public Health England (PHE), said the research suggested the new variant “does not cause more severe disease or increased mortality,” but that researchers were continuing their investigations.
On Tuesday the US confirmed its first case of the variant in Colorado — a man in his 20s, who is in isolation in Elbert County, about 50 miles southeast of Denver, and has no travel history, according to a tweet from the office of Gov. Jared Polis (D).
He wrote, “Today we discovered Colorado’s first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, the same variant discovered in the UK. The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely.”
Researchers from Public Health England (PHE), a government public health agency, compared 1,769 people infected with the B.1.1.7 variant against 1,769 people with the original, “wild-type” virus. They found no significant differences in hospitalization or death rate.
“Review of hospital admissions data from the NHS identified that of the 3,538 cases, 42 individuals had a record of hospital admission after the date of specimen. Fewer variant cases (16 cases (0.9%)) were admitted to hospital compared to wild-type comparator cases (26 cases (1.5%).”
“Among variant cases, 12 of 1,340 (0.89%) variant cases died within 28 days of their specimen date compared with 10 of 1,360 (0.73%) wild-type comparator cases;”
“Two reinfections were detected in in the variant case group (1.13/1000 cases) compared to 3 reinfections in the comparator group (1.70/1000 cases, Fisher’s exact P=1.00).”
The new variant which appears to be more infectious than the original variant of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19 was first identified in the UK in September, and was responsible for a wave of new infections in December, pushing other nations to ban travel from the UK.
This PHE trial was the first “matched” study of the new variant, meaning it compared two groups of subjects matched for age, sex, location, and time of testing, per the Business Insider.
By: Ifunanya Ikueze