Detected last November in the UK, the Sars-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 has since spread to 70 countries. More contagious, this strain of the virus could also be more deadly, according to a report by the New and Emergency Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag). However, these conclusions remain to be confirmed, as one of the members of this British governmental scientific group told Reuters: "It is realistic to think that the new UK variant increases the risk of death, but there is still great uncertainty".
The greater contagiousness of this variant would not be its only peculiarity: it could also cause symptoms somewhat different from the classic strain of Sars-CoV-2. That's according to a study by the Office for National Statistics, the UK's Bureau for National Statistics.
Cough, fatigue and muscle pain more common in variant patients
For the purposes of this study, the researchers looked at 6,000 people who tested positive for Covid-19 between mid-November and mid-January. They were at their home and not been hospitalized. Based on reports from these patients, the researchers found that people affected by the B.1.1.7 variant were more likely to experience certain symptoms.
The cough is thus the symptom the most declared by the patients concerned by this strain and questioned as part of the study: 35% of them were affected by this manifestation, against 28% in people affected by the classic strain. virus.
The second most recurrent symptom in patients with the variant is fatigue: it affects 32% of them, while 29% of patients with the classic strain notice this manifestation.
These are not the only symptoms that affect patients affected by the British variant more. Muscle pain and sore throat are also among the manifestations more present in these patients, since they affect 25 and 21.8% of these patients, respectively, compared to 21 and 19% of individuals affected by the classic strain.
Variant: a higher viral load?
What about loss of taste and smell, symptoms particularly evocative of Covid-19? The researchers found that these manifestations might be slightly less likely to affect people with the new strain of the virus.
Other symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or even headaches seem to affect more or less similarly people affected by the British variant and those affected by the classic strain.
How to explain that certain manifestations of Covid-19 differ depending on the strain of the virus? British virologist Lawrence Young put forward a hypothesis at the BBC : people affected by the British strain may have a higher viral load, "which might explain the fact that there is more coughing, muscle pain and fatigue".
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⋙ English variant of Covid-19: is it really more deadly?
⋙ Covid-19: Are vaccines effective against the South African variant?
⋙ Covid-19: why the new variants worry the health authorities so much