Scientists from the UK’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Advisory Group (NERVTAG) say they are “extremely confident” that the new variant of coronavirus is more infectious than others, with an “indication” that it could be more transmissible to children.
According to NERVTAG, the new variant – believed to have come from the south-east of England – could be about 71% more transmissible than other variants.
“Since last Friday, we have felt moderate confidence as the data came in, but some of the tests were done very quickly,” said Peter Horby, a professor of emerging infectious diseases at Oxford University and chairman of NERVTAG. a virtual news briefing Monday.
“We are now very confident that this variant has a transmission advantage over other virus variants that are currently in the UK,” he added.
Speaking with Horby, Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London noted that there was an “indication” that this variant “has a greater tendency to infect children” compared to previous strains. However, he warned that “we have not established any causality in this regard, but we can see this in the data,” he added.
Another NERVTAG member, Wendy Barclay, head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London, said previous strains of the virus could have been “harder” to enter human cells using a receptor called ACE2. Adults, who have a lot of receptors in their noses and throats, are “easy targets” compared to children. But according to this hypothesis, a virus that can use this receptor more easily to enter cells can make children as sensitive to the virus as adults, she said.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some research suggests that the UK strain may “bind more closely” to the ACE2 receptor, but “it is not known whether this closer binding, if true, translates into clinical or epidemiological differences. significant. “
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