New study confirms the British government’s fears about the potential for contagion of this coronavirus variant.
The new variant of the coronavirus detected in the United Kingdom, called B.1.1.7, is considered much more contagious than the previous one, confirms a new study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine released on Thursday (24).
“Based on available preliminary data,” the study concludes that the Sars-Cov-2 variant, which is suspected to be the cause of the sharp increase in the number of cases in southeastern England in recent weeks, “could be 50% a 74% more transmissible “than the forms of the virus so far in circulation, summarizes one of the authors, Nick Davies, a biologist at the London School.
This estimate, which has not yet been published in a scientific journal or analyzed by independent experts, is consistent with that of “50% to 70%” presented on Monday at a news conference by researchers from the group that advises the UK government on viruses. emerging respiratory diseases, NERVTAG.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, had already mentioned a contagion of more than 70% last weekend, and the British authorities transmitted to the World Health Organization (WHO) the estimate of a transmission that increased from 40% to 70%, according to preliminary data obtained by sequencing the virus genome collected in London and in the south-east of the country.
First detected in September in Great Britain, this variant also known as VOC 202012/01 has 22 mutations in its genome. One in particular, called N501Y, is located on the Spike protein of the coronavirus, an important point on its surface that allows it to attach itself to human cells to penetrate them, thus playing a key role in viral infection.
A quarter of new infections detected in the UK in November were associated with this variant, a number that rose to over 60% in early December. “If the current trend continues, the new variant could represent 90% of cases by mid-January,” according to Nick Davies.
LSHTM researchers still have no evidence that individuals who contract the new variant are at greater risk of hospitalization or death, the hypothesis has yet to be studied.
The likely “sharp increase” in the number of cases caused by this mutation could have important consequences for the outcome of the epidemic, experts believe.
“The recent increase in the number of infections” in various regions “may continue and spread to all parts of the United Kingdom if there is no immediate action,” they warn.
This week, different scientists asked the British government to enact a national lockdown to prevent the pandemic from spreading.