Corona mutant B.1.1.7, first discovered in the United Kingdom, is 64 percent more deadly than previous variants of the virus, according to a new study. In 4.1 out of every thousand cases, infection with B.1.1.7 leads to death, according to the study by researchers at Britain’s University of Exeter published Wednesday in the journal BMJ. For earlier coronavirus variants, the mortality rate is 2.5 per thousand cases.
For their study, the researchers analyzed pairs of data from nearly 55,000 study participants each. The people had tested positive for the coronavirus between October and January. After they received their test results, they were observed by the researchers for 28 days. The scientists focused on people who had been tested for the coronavirus in their home environment – and not in hospital.
This meant that the proportion of patients at risk was lower than in studies based on data from hospitals. If the study results are generalizable to other populations, it means B.1.1.7 has the potential to cause “substantial additional mortality compared with already circulating variants,” the authors write.
The British government had already warned in January, in view of initial studies, that the B.1.1.7 mutant could take a more lethal course than the original variant of the coronavirus in up to 40 percent of cases. Scientists also noted a significantly higher transmissibility of B.1.1.7 compared to the variant of origin.
Microbiologist Simon Clarke of the University of Reading said the higher transmissibility and the higher mortality now found show that “this variant virus is a significant challenge for the health system and policy makers.” That makes it all the more important, he said, that “people get vaccinated when called upon.”
University of Southampton scientist Michael Head emphasized that the study results highlight the danger posed by a large spread of the virus. “The more Covid-19 there is, the greater the likelihood that a new variant of concern will emerge,” he said. More likely then, he said, is the emergence of mutants against which existing vaccines were ineffective.
Most Corona vaccine manufacturers state that their vaccine is also effective against B.1.1.7. However, the effectiveness of the vaccines is unclear for other existing variants, such as the one currently spreading primarily in South Africa.
- source: kurier.at/picture:pixabay.com
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