First identified in the UK, the variant of coronavirus spreads more easily than older strains but does not cause more severe illness in hospitalized patients. This is what a new study found.
People infected with the variant known as B.1.1.7 at the end of last year had more viruses in their bodies than patients infected with older strains. This is a sign that the newer variant is more infectious, according to the medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases study published online Monday. However, the patients admitted to hospital with B.1.1.7 did not die more often or had poorer overall results.
The results help scientists understand the effects of B.1.1.7, which has become particularly important as the strain now dominates cases in the UK, the US and a few other countries.
"If you do have to go to the hospital, you are no worse with this variant compared to the previous strain of the virus," said Eleni Nastouli, clinical virologist and pediatrician at University College London and senior author of the paper.
"Obviously, if you need hospitalization for Covid, that's a concern," she added. "But it's no more than the previous one."
An expanded version of this report is available at WSJ.com