The variant found in the United Kingdom is well more infectious than “50% to 74%”

Christmas shopping in London, during Coronavirus, December 24, 2020. – Alex Lentati / LNP / Shutterstock / Sipa

The British government’s apprehensions were unfortunately well established around the increasing infectiousness of the new form of coronovirus found on its soil a few days before the Christmas holidays.

According to only one study, this new variant is more infectious than strains far in circulation, well “50% to 74%”. Neither an estimate was published in a scientific journal nor analyzed by independent experts but which is “based on available preliminary data”, according to one of its authors, Nick Davis, a biologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

22 mutations on the genome

This estimate is in line with the “50% to 70%” presented on Monday by other researchers, members of the group, who advise the British government on the emerging respiratory virus, the British NRVTAG. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, himself spoke of 70% more infectiousness last weekend.

First revealed in September in Great Britain, there are 22 mutations on the genome of this variant named VOC 202012/01. In particular, the spike of the coronavirus, called N501Y, is located at the protein level, a point on its surface that allows it to attach to human cells to penetrate, therefore playing an important role in viral infection.

A variant that “may represent 90% of cases by mid-January” in the United Kingdom.

A quarter of the new infections found in the affected areas in November were linked to this version in early November, a figure that exceeded 60% in early December. And “if the current trend continues, the new version may represent 90% of cases by mid-January, according to Nick-Davis”.

LSHTM researchers have “not yet found any evidence that individuals who contract the new version have an increased risk of hospitalization or death.” But the possible “rapid increase” in cases leading to this change may, according to them, have significant consequences on the outcome of the epidemic.

He said “the recent increase in the number of infections in many regions” can continue and spread to all parts of the UK without prompt action.

This new version is not exclusively broadcast in the United Kingdom, with several cases being detected in Belgium, particularly in early December.

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