The new strain of covid-19 is "between 50% and 74%" more contagious, said a medical study on Thursday, which warned of the consequences of this on mortality in the United Kingdom, reports AFP.
"According to the preliminary data available," the Sars-Cov-2 variant, suspected of having caused the large increase in the number of cases in south-east England in recent weeks, "could be between 50% and 74% more contagious, "said biologist Nick Davies of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), one of the authors.
This estimate, released via the Internet and which has not yet been confirmed by any scientific journal, coincides with that of "50% to 70%" indicated on Monday at a press conference by scientists advising the British government.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke last weekend of a 70% higher transmission and the British authorities informed the World Health Organization (WHO) that the new strain is transmitted between 40% and 70% plus.
Detected for the first time in September in the United Kingdom, this variant called VOC 202012/01 carries 22 mutations in the covid-19 genome.
One of them affects the spike protein (spicule) of the coronavirus, with which the virus attaches itself to human cells to penetrate them, facilitating infections.
LSHTM researchers "did not find elements at the moment that indicate that those infected with this mutation have a greater risk of being hospitalized or dying."
Although the new strain is no more dangerous than the previous ones, the probable "significant increase" in the number of cases could affect the death toll, which could "be higher in 2021 than in 2020", according to the study.
The British authorities already announced new restrictions last weekend, such as a reconfinement in London and the south-east of England.