Commuters wearing protective face masks walk along a platform at Liverpool Street railway station, in London on 12 August
(Representational Image) Commuters wearing protective face masks along a railway station, in London | Photo: Simon Dawson | Bloomberg
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New Delhi: The new variant of coronavirus, which has been identified in the UK, does not cause more severe Covid-19 or increased death rate compared to other variants, according to an investigational study shared by the British government. 

The UK variant, B.1.1.7, is also less likely to cause more reinfections, stated the paper published Wednesday. 

The variant, which has been designated as VOC 202012/01 by the researchers, has raised concerns across the globe as scientists found that certain mutations in this variant has increased the transmissibility of this virus.  

As of Wednesday, India has detected 20 Covid-19 cases infected with the UK variant. The government has already banned flights to and from the UK, and passengers returning from other international flights are also being screened. 

Also read: 6 key questions & answers about new Covid variant in UK

3,538 cases analysed for study

In the paper, researchers from Public Health England, Imperial College London, University of Birmingham, University of Edinburgh and Wellcome Sanger Institute compared 1,769 cases with the B.1.1.7 variant virus to 1,769 cases of other variants.

The team reviewed hospital admissions data to identify how many of the cases needed hospitalisation. It found that of the 3,538 cases, 42 individuals had a record of hospital admission. 

Of these 42, as many as 16 cases infected with the UK variant were admitted to hospital compared to 26 cases with the other variants. 

The team also looked at the 28-day case fatality for the cases. The analysis was limited to 2,700 cases where 28 days had been completed since the date when the person was tested. 

Among the 1,340 cases infected with the UK variant virus, out of the 2,700 total cases of all variants, 12 died within 28 days, compared with 10 of 1,360 cases with other variants. According to the researchers, this difference is not statistically significant.

UK variant more likely to transmit fast

The team also found there was no significant difference in the number of reinfections caused by the UK variant virus, when compared to other variants.

A reinfection is defined as a positive Covid-19 test at least 90 days after the first positive test.

Two reinfections were detected in the UK variant group compared to three in the other group, which is not statistically significant, according to the researchers. 

What the researchers did confirm, however, was that those who came in contact with a Covid-19 patient infected with the UK variant were more likely to get infected than those who came in contact with patients infected with other variants. 

As many as 2,28,361 contacts of the 3,538 patients became infected by the virus. The paper stated that 15.1 per cent got infected with the virus after coming in contact with patients with the UK Covid variant, as opposed to 9.8 per cent who got infected by those with other variants.

Also read: US confirms first case of new Covid variant discovered in UK


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  1. The numbers of hospital admissions and deaths reported were not statistically significant. Therefore you should not conclude that the new variant is more or less lethal. You can only say that the sample size was too low.

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