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Scientists discover altered symptoms of the British variant

Credits: Belga
Credits: Belga
Credits: Belga

A new study has revealed that people who become infected with the British variant of the coronavirus are more likely to display certain symptoms than those infected with other variants.

According to a report published by the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), coughing, a sore throat, muscle pains, and fever are more common symptoms of the British Variant of the coronavirus, B.1.1.7, while the loss of smell and taste was less likely to be exhibited by patients with the new variant.

More generally, patients who contracted the British Variant were more likely to exhibit symptoms (53%) than patients with an older strain (48%), the study of approximately 6,000 cases between 15 November 2020 and 16 January 2021 has shown.

In Numbers: Older strain Vs the new British Variant

Those infected with the old variant displayed symptoms that included coughing (28%), fatigue (29%), muscle pain (21%), and sore throat (19%). 

In comparison, the British variant’s symptoms also include a cough (35%), fatigue (32 %) muscle pain (25%), and sore throat (21.8%).

However, loss of taste and smell was reported by 18% of patients with an old variant, compared with just 16% (taste) and 15% (smell) diagnosed with the new variant.

Scientists discovered no apparent difference in gastrointestinal symptoms (such as diarrhoea), headache, and shortness of breath, highlighting that these were just as common with the British variant as with the old one.

More infectious?

Virologist Richard Tedder of Imperial College London told the British Medical Journal that these findings can provide one explanation as to why this new strain is more contagious: “The fact that it has been reported that the second wave viruses are more likely to cause symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection, i.e. coughs and colds, may indicate that a trivial difference in the way the virus may cause disease symptoms could cause more easy transmission between people. 

“For example, if there is an increased amount of coughing and perhaps sneezing associated with a particular variant virus, these two activities can markedly increase the amount of virus which is shed into the environment, thereby making it ‘more infectious.”

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times