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Even as Coronavirus spreads with multiple variants in different countries around the world at an astronomical pace, two new studies published in Lancet Infectious Diseases and Lancet Public Health have found no evidence that the UK Coronavirus variant caused more severe symptoms of the disease in comparison to other variants of the disease. However, as already reported in various countries, the new UK strain of Coronavirus was more infectious than its previous strains and spreading at a much faster rate, the study found.Ever since the new variant of Coronavirus emerged in the United Kingdom last year, concerns have been raised about faster infection rate, more deadly symptoms and ability of new strain to dodge the immunity provided by Covid-19 vaccines.
The study which has been published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases analysed a bunch of Covid-19 patients who were admitted to the University College London Hospital and North Middlesex University Hospital between November 09 and December 20 last year. This was the period when the UK variant named B.1.1.7 had just emerged and was causing havoc in London and other parts of the country due to its higher infection rate. The study compared the behaviour of the virus among patients who were infected with the B.1.1.7 variant and those patients who had been infected with earlier prevalent Covid-19 virus strains.
A total of 341 patients were analysed as part of the study out of which 198 had got infected with the B.1.1.7 variant whereas 143 had a non-B.1.1.7 infection. The share of patients who became severely ill or succumbed to the disease was roughly the same in both sets of patients. While 36 percent of the B.1.1.7 infected patients fell severely ill and died, the share of non-B.1.1.7 infected patients who got severe symptoms and died was about 38 percent.
So far as the transmission rate of the new variant is concerned, the study relied on the RT-PCR testing of patients infected by the new variant and found that the viral load was much higher as compared to earlier variants. The researchers also found that the B.1.1.7. infection patients had more viral load in their swabs as compared to the swabs of non B.1.1.7. Covid patients.
Dr Eleni Nastouli, who is from University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was quoted as saying that the research assumed significance as it was conducted during a period when both the new UK variant as well as the older variants of Coronavirus were prevalent in the country. De Eleni further said that the crucial time window offered an opportunity to gain insights into the severity of the new variant as well as its infectious rate.