The new mutant variant of the "super" coronavirus is indeed more contagious than previous variants, scientists feared, a new study found.
Researchers at Imperial College London found that the new variant, which wreaked havoc in the UK, could be nearly 50 percent more transmissible based on samples from nearly 86,000 Britons.
In the peer-reviewed study published online yesterday, Imperial College researchers found that the R-number for the new B117 variant is between 0.4 and 0.7 points higher than other variants .
The & # 39; R & # 39; number of a virus describes the average number of additional cases that each infection leads to.
In the UK, the final R number is between 1.1 and 1.3, government figures show. This means that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 11 and 13 other people.
Diagrams from the new study show how the new variant became increasingly common (points higher on each diagram) and more transferable over the course of eight weeks in the UK (points further to the right in each diagram show increasing R-numbers or transfer rates)
Pictured: A screenshot from the Imperial College report showing case trends for the new strain of coronavirus, with the% S rate indicating the new variant is being promoted
Pictured: Graphs from the Imperial College report showing the age distribution of people found to be wearing the new variant of Covid-19
In the USA, each infected person leads to an average of 1.15 additional infections according to daily calculations by RT.live.
By this measure of portability, the R-number in the US ranges from about 0.86 in Alaska to 1.23 in Maine, which turned out to be a hotspot this week.
The new variant was first discovered in the UK in September, according to the study. However, it exploded at the beginning of December and led to an increase in infections among the British.
The spread of the new, novel SARS-CoV-2 variant or Variant of Concern 202012/01 (VOC) in England takes place despite a tiered system to bring the spread of the virus under control.
The majority of England are under "Tier 4", the strictest level, but despite the measures taken, they still have record numbers of daily Covid-19 infections.
Researchers at Imperial College London sequenced the genomes of 1,904 people infected with the new variant and compared how quickly the virus spread to a wider sample of other samples from more than 48,000 people in England.
What is the "mutated COVID strain" and why are experts affected?
Coronaviruses mutate regularly and acquire about a new mutation in their genome every two weeks.
Most mutations do not significantly change the way the virus works.
This super strain, named B.1.1.7, was first identified in the UK in November.
It has since been found in France, Spain, Italy, Iceland, Japan, Singapore, Australia, and now the United States.
The new COVID-19 variant has a mutation in the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein at position 501, where the amino acid asparagine (N) has been replaced by tyrosine (Y).
It's more contagious than previous strains and potentially more harmful to children.
However, it is not believed to be any more deadly.
Public Health England researchers compared 1,769 people infected with the new variant with 1,769 people who had one of the earlier strains of the virus.
42 people in the group were hospitalized, 16 of whom had the new variant and 26 had the wild type.
Twelve of the variant cases and ten of the "older" virus cases died within four weeks of testing.
Neither the hospital stay nor the mortality differences were statistically significant.
As expected, they found that the new virus actually had a "selective advantage over circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants in England," they wrote in the print published online on Thursday.
The variant was also disproportionately widespread in people aged 20 and over in south-east and east England and in London.
The results of the new study mean that each person who catches this mutant virus will pass it on to up to 0.7 other people on average.
So far, there is no evidence that the new variant causes a more serious illness or is more fatal.
Fortunately, virologists and public health experts believe that vaccines from companies like AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna will continue to be effective against the new variant of the coronavirus.
But the new variant exacerbates the race between the spread of the virus and vaccination campaigns in the UK, the US – where the new variant has now been found in Colorado, California and Florida – and at least 31 other countries where the more infectious form of coronavirus has been detected .
With an average of more than 186,000 new infections in a single day in the US, the 48 percent higher transmission rate of 1.85 new infections per day could cause over 275,000.
It could spell disaster for hospitals in hotspots like California, where some health systems and regions are already out of intensive care beds, in states with "internal disaster" and rationed care.
In the UK, there are similar fears about the National Health Service (NHS) and its ability to cope with the number of coronavirus patients expected if the new variant of the disease continues to spread.
Deepti Gurdasani, lecturer in epidemiology and statistical genetics at Queen Mary University in London, shares data from a separate study from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). warned that "B117 is either dominant or very close to dominance in most regions" in England.
Within six weeks, the researchers saw the transmission rate (R) of the new coronavirus variant become higher (orange) than other variants, particularly in south-east England, east England and London
According to a Bloomberg News tally, only 3.17 million Americans had been vaccinated as of Friday.
The CDC's balance sheet lowers the number even further. The agency's website states that the vaccination tracker will be updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. However, at the time of publication, Wednesday's numbers showed 2.79 million people vaccinated.
Bloomberg's higher estimate means Operation Warp Speed vaccinated only 16 percent of the 20 million Americans promised to be vaccinated by the end of the year.
At this rate, it would take nearly a decade to vaccinate all adult members of the American population of 331 million people.
And many Americans stay on the fence to get a vaccine even if one is available. Around 60 percent of Ohio nursing home workers said they would turn down a shot.
Sluggish, dysfunctional vaccine distribution and Americans' distrust of the gunshots could collectively provide the B117 variant with just the opening it needs to spread like wildfire across the country, infecting millions beyond the 20 million people who already have it in the US were infected, killing thousands.
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