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Mortality Increased in Association With SARS-CoV-2 U.K. Variant

TUESDAY, March 16, 2021 -- The risk for mortality is increased in association with infection with a new variant of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) designated a variant of concern (VOC-202012/1) in December 2020, according to a study published online March 10 in The BMJ.

Robert Challen, Ph.D., from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a cohort study involving 54,906 matched pairs of participants who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in community-based COVID-19 testing centers between Oct. 1, 2020, and Jan. 29, 2021. Participants differed only on detectability of the spike protein gene using the TaqPath assay (a proxy measure of VOC-202012/1 infection).

The researchers found that for patients who tested positive for COVID-19 in the community, the mortality hazard ratio associated with infection with VOC-202012/1 compared with infection with previously circulating variants was 1.64. This represented an increase in deaths from 2.5 to 4.1 per 1,000 detected cases in this relatively low-risk group.

"In the community, death from COVID-19 is still a rare event, but the B.1.1.7 variant raises the risk," Challen said in a statement. "Coupled with its ability to spread rapidly this makes B.1.1.7 a threat that should be taken seriously."

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