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British coronavirus variant has a longer contagious period

Credit: Belga

The British coronavirus variant has a longer contagious period, the government’s corona committee warned.

The variant was already known to be more infectious, but now it appears that those infected with the strain carry it for a longer period of time and are contagious for longer.

“There is not necessarily a higher concentration of the viral load, but there is a longer presence of the viral load. This means that we will have to reconsider the measures in function of a longer presence of the viral load,” said vaccine expert Pierre Van Damme.

A longer period between the first and second PCR tests following an infection would be an example of such a change.

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Around 30 to 35% of infections in Belgium are with the British variant, but “we expect the British variant to become dominant and to increase to 50 percent in the near future,” the committee said.

The experts are watching this evolution closely, as “on the one hand, because we know that it is highly contagious, but on the other hand, it could also be an ecological advantage in terms of pushing out the other two variants,” Van Damme said.

According to him, stopping the British variant is no longer possible. Fortunately, the three vaccines currently used in Belgium by Pfizer/Biontech, Moderna and AstraZeneca have similar efficacy in protecting against the Wuhan variant and the British variant. This is positive news, because these vaccines are good weapons to use against the British variant.

Therefore, the ecological advantage of the dominant British variant may be able to reduce the spread of the potentially more dangerous variants in our country.

The Brussels Times