In early September 2020, months after the first cases of the coronavirus were detected in China, scientists discovered a new variant of Covid-19 in the southeast of England. The virus, which is considered more transmissible than the initial strain -- SARS-CoV-2 -- accounted for millions of all infections. By the end of the same year, the new variant called B.1.1.7 has been associated with a high mortality rate, but a new study has suggested that the people infected with this variant are less likely to experience severe illness and die.
UK Covid Variant More Infectious But Less Severe
According to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, people who have been infected with the UK variant of the coronavirus are less likely to experience severe illness and die. It was reported that people who had contracted this coronavirus variant did not experience more severe symptoms and were not at a higher risk of death.
For the study, researchers studied the data from around the time when the variant was first detected in the UK. They collected samples from 341 patients at the University College London Hospital and the North Middlesex University Hospital between November 9 to December 20, 2020. 58 per cent out of these participants tested positive for B.1.1.7 variant and the other 42 per cent were infected with another Covid-19 strain.
After thorough analysis, they arrived at the conclusion that the patients who were infected with the UK variants had greater quantities of the virus or higher 'viral loads,' or greater amounts of the virus in their bodies. According to the researchers, there did not find an association of the UK variant with the severity of illness, but these patients were more likely to be given oxygen. As per the study results, the UK variant does not cause more severe illness and death.
"Analysing the variant before the peak of hospital admissions and any associated strains on the health service gave us a crucial window of time to gain vital insights into how B.1.1.7. differs in severity or death in hospitalised patients from the coronavirus strain of the first wave," Eleni Nastouli, from University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Vaccines Work Against The UK Strain
So far, India has approved two Covid-19 vaccines, Serum Institute of India's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin. After the reports of the side-effects of the Oxford -AstraZeneca vaccine (Covishield) surfaced, many people became concerned regarding the efficacy of the vaccine against the various strains. Following these reports, NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr VK Paul clarified that there is no signal of concern and Covishield is safe to use. Amid the queries, ICMR Director-General Dr Balram Bhargava affirmed that both, Covishield and Covaxin, are effective against the UK as well as the Brazilian Covid variant.
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UK variant was first discovered in southeast England on 14 December 2020. After its emergence, scientists found that the variant of coronavirus is highly contagious.