The British corona mutation B.1.1.7 is spreading rapidly in Germany.
It's far more contagious than the original version - but also more deadly?
A recent study says: no.
London - The British coronavirus mutation B.1.1.7 has long been the dominant variant in Germany.
After the Robert Koch Institute had put their share in Germany at 22 percent in February and 50 percent in March, 88 percent of infections have been due to B.1.1.7 since the beginning of April.
Corona mutation B.1.1.7: Merkel warns - "essentially we have a new virus"
“This is worrying,” writes the RKI in its current management report of April 12, and predicts: “The increase in the number of cases overall and the number of infections due to variant B 1.1.7.
will lead to a significantly increasing number of hospitalizations and intensive care patients. "
At the turn of the year the mutation had spread in Great Britain at an ever faster pace.
Because initial studies had indicated a significantly higher infectiousness compared to the original version, the alarm bells rang in many places.
Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) said that we were dealing with a "new pandemic".
"Essentially, we have a new virus, of course the same type, but with completely different properties - significantly more deadly, significantly more infectious, longer infectious." The Chancellor's statements were based on initial scientific findings.
However, according to the latest findings, the point with the increased mortality, i.e. death rate, is not applicable.
Corona mutation B.1.1.7: virus variant more contagious, but not more fatal
According to current studies, the corona variant B.1.1.7 is more contagious than the original form, but not more deadly.
This is the conclusion of researchers in two separate papers published on Tuesday (April 12) in the journals
The Lancet Infectious Diseases
The Lancet Public Health
The assumption that variant B.1.1.7 is not only easier to transfer, but could also lead to higher patient mortality, could be revised.
In their study, researchers from University College London used PCR tests to examine the viral load of infected people and to evaluate the severe courses and deaths that occurred during this period.
In those infected with the so-called British variant, they found a higher viral load.
However, the proportion of patients who died of Covid-19 was not increased in the variant.
British corona mutation: No differences in disease severity
evaluated symptoms of Covid patients who reported them via a health system app.
Using gene sequencing, they also determined which corona variant those affected were suffering from.
This study also found no significant differences in the severity of the disease or in the demonstrable long-term effects of an infection.
However, the researchers demonstrated a significant increase in the R value for the British variant, which describes the development of the pandemic.
This also speaks in favor of an increased transferability of the variant.
Since the studies were both carried out last winter in London and southern England, where variant B.1.1.7 was spreading rapidly at that time, the researchers had good comparability of the two variants.
However, the scientists admit that additional studies are needed to further confirm the findings.
Corona mutations: More than 12,000 virus variants by September 2020
In addition to the British variant, which is dominant in Europe, mutations from South Africa, Brazil and the USA are currently known.
However, none of them play a significant role in Germany.
To keep it that way, the RKI advises: "Unnecessary travel should continue to be avoided at all costs, especially due to the increasing spread of the worrying virus variants."
Virus mutations are by the way not uncommon per se.
Because viruses change continuously.
And so it may seem scary at first glance if more than 12,000 corona mutations were known by September 2020 alone, but the vast majority of them are no different from the original version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The British variant does not fall into this category because of its increased infectivity, but it does not seem to be any more deadly.
(as / dpa)