United Kingdom

British variant of COVID-19 not as severe as feared - study

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The word "COVID-19" is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle in this illustration taken November 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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(Reuters) - A highly contagious variant of COVID-19 first identified in Britain does not cause more severe disease in hospitalised patients, according to a new study published in the medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases on Monday.

The strain, known as B.1.1.7, was identified in Britain late last year and has become the most common variant in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study analysed a group of 496 COVID-19 patients who were admitted to British hospitals in November and December last year, comparing outcomes in patients infected with B.1.1.7 or other variants. The researchers found no difference in the risks of severe disease, death, or other clinical outcomes in patients with B.1.1.7 and other variants.

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"Our data, within the context and limitations of a real-world study, provide initial reassurance that severity in hospitalised patients with B.1.1.7 is not markedly different from severity in those without," the researchers said in the study.

A separate study published in The Lancet Public Health concludes that vaccines are likely to be effective against the British variant since there was no apparent increase in reinfection rate when compared to non-UK variants.

According to British scientists, the British variant was about 40%-70% more transmissible than previously dominant variants.

The studies also confirmed the previous findings that B.1.1.7 was more transmissible.

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3g51CHx The Lancet Infectious Diseases and https://bit.ly/3skOtwA The Lancet Public Health, online April 12, 2021.

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