Jerusalem, April 21 (IANS): The British variant, named B117 by Covid-19, is 45 percent more contagious than the original virus, according to a new study that took data from about 300,000 PCR tests.
The study, led by researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel, used a kit that tested three different viral genes. In the British variant, one of these genes – the S gene – has been deleted by mutation.
“That’s why we were able to track the spread of the variant even without genetic sequencing,” said Ariel Munitz of the University’s Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology.
Data from about 300,000 PCR tests showed that the spread of the British variant was very fast: on December 24, 2020, only 5 percent of the positive results were attributed to the British variant. Just six weeks later, in January 2021, this variant was responsible for 90 percent of Covid-19 cases in Israel. The current figure is about 99.5 percent.
The findings were published in the scientific journal Cell Reports Medicine.
“To explain this dramatic increase, we compared the R number of the SARS-CoV-2 virus with the R variant of the British variant. In other words, we asked the question: How many people on average suffer from each disease of a person who has any variant? the variant is 45 percent more contagious – almost 1.5 times, ”Munitz said.
Moreover, a new study proves that active monitoring of at-risk populations works. “There is a limit value for determining whether a particular test is positive or negative for a virus – with a lower value indicating a higher viral load,” Munitz added.
A recent study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases reported that, although the British variant is still more contagious than the original strains of the virus, it did not increase the severity of the disease and people are not more likely to die with it.