Report: B.1.1.7 strain not more deadly or more likely to hospitalize than normal COVID-19 virus


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DENVER (KDVR) — Information on a more infectious strain of coronavirus now found in Colorado is new and scarce, but the consensus is that it is not more likely than the regular coronavirus strain to result in death, hospitalization or reinfection.

An Elbert County, Colorado man has contracted a new, more highly infectious strain of the novel coronavirus that was first identified in mid-December in the United Kingdom. The man is isolated, and the state health department is tracing his case closely.

The strain, known as B.1.1.7, was first spotted in England and has since been found in several other counties. The Colorado case is its first appearance in the United States.

A working group from London’s Centre for Mathematical Modeling of Infectious Diseases released a study on Dec. 23 that found B.1.1.7 is 56% more transmissible than the regular strain. Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed the new strain is as much as 70% more transmissible than normal.

Public Health England, an executive agency of the nation’s Department of Health and Social Care, released a study before Christmas detailing the coronavirus variant’s particulars.

Coloradans can take some comfort in the fact that the new strain is, for now, essentially an especially infectious strain with largely the same outcomes as the now-common novel coronavirus.

“Preliminary results from the cohort study found no statistically significant difference in hospitalization and 28-day case fatality between cases with the variant (VOC 201212/01) and wild-type comparator cases,” reads the report summary. “There was also no significant difference in the likelihood of reinfection between variant cases and the comparator group.”

Typically, COVID-19 mortalities occur within 28 days of infection. The B.1.1.7 variant is no different.

“The 28-day case fatality was assessed for variant cases and comparator cases,” reads the report. “Analysis was restricted to 2,700 cases with a full 28 days elapsed since the specimen date. Among variant cases, 12 of 1,340 (0.89%) variant cases died within 28 days of their specimen date compared with 10 of 1,360 (0.73%) wild-type comparator cases; this difference was not significant (Odds ratio:1.21, p=0.65).”

The study also found the new strain largely follows the same spread locations as the COVID-19. In England, it occurs most heavily where the coronavirus is already most concentrated.

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