The COVID variant first detected in Kent spreads more easily but does not increase the severity of the disease, according to two studies.
Known as B117, it is now dominant in the United States, the UK and a number of other countries.
The studies concluded that there is no evidence that infected people have more severe symptoms or are at a higher risk of developing COVID.
The viral load and reproduction number (R) were, however, higher, proving that it is more transmissible.
The authors of both studies said their findings differed from some other research exploring the severity of the variant and called for more work on the topic.
The first article – a whole genome and cohort sequencing study – looked at 341 people with COVID admitted to two London hospitals in November and December of last year.
The Kent variant was present in 198 (58%) and 143 (42%) had another variant.
But there was no evidence of a link between B117 and more serious disease, with 72 of 198 (36%) becoming extremely ill or dying with Kent’s variant, compared with 38% in those with another type.
Sixteen percent died with B117 within 28 days, compared to 17% for the other group.
“Analyzing the variant before peak hospital admissions and all the associated strains on the health service gave us a crucial window of time to gain vital insight into how B117 differs in terms of severity or death in hospitalized patients from the strain of the first wave, “said virologist Dr Eleni Nastouli.
A second study analyzed self-reported data from nearly 37,000 users of the COVID Symptom Study app who tested positive between September and December, when the proportion of Kent variant cases increased in London and …
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This notice was published: 2021-04-13 00:48:00