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COVID 19 Kent variant spreads around quickly but doesn’t lead to severe disease – scientists

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Kamal Saini
Kamal S. has been Journalist and Writer for Business, Hardware and Gadgets at Revyuh.com since 2018. He deals with B2b, Funding, Blockchain, Law, IT security, privacy, surveillance, digital self-defense and network policy. As part of his studies of political science, sociology and law, he researched the impact of technology on human coexistence. Email: kamal (at) revyuh (dot) com

The coronavirus Kent variant first detected in Kent, also known as B117 dominant in the U.S. and the UK, spreads around more quickly but does not lead to severe disease, as revealed by two new studies.

The scientists concluded that the B.1.1.7 variant evidence that infected people get worse symptoms or have more risk of developing long COVID, and that the virus isn’t causing different symptoms among those infected compared to previous strains of SARS-CoV-2.

But their findings conflict with those of another study published last month in Nature, which found the opposite outcome among hospitalized patients.

Viral load and the reproduction (R) number were higher however, adding to evidence that it’s more transmissible.

The authors of both studies said their findings differed from some other research exploring the variant’s severity, and urged more work on the subject.

The first research – a whole-genome sequencing and cohort study – looked at 341 people with COVID admitted to two London hospitals in November and December last year.

The Kent variant was present in 198 (58%) and 143 (42%) had another variant.

But there was no evidence of a link between B117 and more serious disease, with 72 of 198 (36%) becoming extremely ill or dying with the Kent variant, versus 38% in those with another type.

Sixteen percent died with B117 within 28 days, compared with 17% for the other group.

“Analysing the variant before the peak of hospital admissions and any associated strains on the health service gave us a crucial window of time to gain vital insights into how B117 differs in severity or death in hospitalised patients from the strain of the first wave,” said virologist Dr Eleni Nastouli.

A second paper analysed self-reported data from nearly 37,000 users of the COVID Symptom Study app who tested positive between September and December, when the proportion of Kent variant cases increased in London and the South East.

It also showed increased transmissibility, with B117 increasing the R number by an estimated 1.35 times compared with the original strain – in line with previous studies.

However, the variant didn’t appear to alter symptoms and “clearly responded to lockdown measures and doesn’t appear to escape immunity gained by exposure to the original virus”, said Dr Claire Steves from King’s College London, who co-led the study.

Vaccines being used in the UK still appear to offer a strong level of protection against the Kent variant but may have reduced effectiveness against the much less common Brazil and South Africa variants, according to other research.

The latest two studies research are published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases and Public Health journals.

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