Public/Global Health

Study: UK variant not linked to more severe disease or death

The highly contagious variant of the coronavirus believed to have originated in the United Kingdom that has contributed to this year’s surge of infections is not linked to higher instances of severe illness or death, a study published Monday found.

The study published in the Lancet medical journal by roughly two dozen researchers examining nearly 500 patients found no link between the U.K. variant and more severe cases of COVID-19, though the variant is still thought to have a higher transmission rate.

“We found no evidence of a difference in our main outcome of severe disease or death by SARS-CoV-2 lineage,” the researchers wrote.

“Patients with [the U.K. variant] were younger and had fewer comorbidities than those with [non-U.K. variants], possibly representing the widespread and potential increased transmission of this variant in the community or differences in probability of hospital admission, which we were not able to explore in this hospital-based cohort,” the study’s conclusion read.

The study contradicts statements that top officials including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have made in the past several months regarding the U.K. variant of COVID-19, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says is the most common strain in the U.S.

In January, Johnson said that “some evidence” pointed to the British variant being possibly “associated with a higher degree of mortality.”

“I want to stress that there’s a lot of uncertainty around these numbers and we need more work to get a precise handle on it, but it obviously is a concern that this has an increase in mortality as well as an increase in transmissibility,” added the U.K.’s top scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, at the time.

Tags Boris Johnson Coronavirus COVID-19 Great Britain U.K. UK variant United Kingdom

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