Scientists from the UK’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) say they are now “very confident” that the new variant of the Coronavirus is more contagious than others, with a “hint” that it could be more transmissible in children.
According to NERVTAG, the new variant – which is thought to have originated in southeast England – could be about 71% more transmissible than the other variants.
“As of last Friday, we felt we had moderate confidence because the data was coming in, but some analyzes were done very quickly,” said Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases at Oxford University and chair of NERVTAG. A virtual news feed on Monday.
He added: “We now have high confidence that this variant has a transmission advantage over other virus variants currently in the United Kingdom.”
Speaking alongside Horby, Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London noted that there is a “hint” that this variant “has a greater tendency to infect children”, compared to previous strains. But he warned that “we did not prove any kind of causation in that, but we can see that in the data,” he added.
Another member of Nervatag, Wendy Barclay, head of the infectious diseases department at Imperial College London, said earlier strains of the virus may have had “more difficulty” reaching human cells using a receptor called ACE2. Adults, who have a lot of this receptor in their noses and throat, are “easy targets” compared to children. But under this hypothesis, the virus that can use this receptor more easily to enter cells may make children as susceptible to infection as adults.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some research indicates that the UK strain may be “closely related” to the ACE2 receptor, but “it is not known whether this tighter association, if true, translates into any major epidemiological or clinical differences.” . “
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