UK mutation 45% more infectious than original COVID-19

uk mutation, b117
© Daniel Garcia Mendoza

The UK mutation of COVID-19, aka B117, has been found by scientists to be 45% more infectious than the original form of the virus

Tel Aviv University investigated the B117 variant through 300,000 COVID tests – finding that the mutation was 45% more infectious than the original virus.

Professor Ariel Munitz, co-lead researcher, explained: “We use a kit that tests for three different viral genes. In the British variant, also known as B.1.1.7, one of these genes, the S gene, has been erased by the mutation.

“Consequently, we were able to track the spread of the variant even without genetic sequencing.”

Professor Munitz found that the UK mutation spread extremely quickly.

On 24 December, 2020, it was responsible for 5% of COVID cases. As soon as six weeks later in January, B117 had become responsible for 90% of cases in Israel. Right now, that figure is at 99.5% in the country.

According to a lineage report, there have been 372,310 cases of B117 tested globally – but more cases than this exist, they simply haven’t been analysed. Some countries are not prioritising genomic tracking, as they are handling the increasing weight of COVID cases and far from completing mass vaccination. In fact, some countries won’t get to vaccinate until 2023 – due to drug prices and intellectual property laws.

The team also studied the older population

“Until January we saw a linear dependence of almost 100% between the different age groups in new cases per 1,000 people,” said Dr Dan Yamin, from the Laboratory for Epidemic Modeling and Analysis (LEMA) at Tel Aviv University.

“Two weeks after 50% of the 60+ population received the first dose of the vaccine this graph broke sharply and significantly. During January a dramatic drop was observed in the number of new cases in the 60+ group, alongside a continued rise in the rest of the population.

“Simply put, since more than 90% of those who died from Covid-19 were over 60, we can say that the vaccine saved hundreds of lives – even in the short run.”

Vaccinate the older population to stop B117

Dr Yemin further commented: “Our message to the world is that if with our problematic starting point a distinct decline was identified, other Western countries can certainly expect the curve to break – despite the high contagion of the British variant – with a dramatic drop in severe cases following the vaccination of 50% of the older population, alongside targeted testing at risk epicenters.”

Read the full study here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here