The coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom spreads more easily than older strains but doesn’t lead to more severe disease among hospitalized patients, a new study found.
People infected late last year with the variant, known as B.1.1.7, had more virus in their bodies than patients infected with older strains, a sign the newer variant is more infectious, according to the study published online Monday by the medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases. But the patients hospitalized with B.1.1.7 didn’t die at higher rates or have worse outcomes overall.
The findings add to scientists’ understanding of B.1.1.7’s impact, which has become especially important now that the strain has come to dominate cases in the U.K., U.S. and some other countries.
“If you need hospitalization, you’re not worse with this variant compared to the previous virus strain,” said Eleni Nastouli, a clinical virologist and pediatrician at University College London and senior author on the paper.
“Of course, if you’re requiring hospital admission for Covid, that is a worry,” she added. “But it’s not more than the previous strain.”